Theoretical Interpretation of Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Last Supper

Leonardo Divinci

Analysis of "The Last Supper"

Overview of Leonardo da Vinci

Analysis of "The Last Supper"

The selected piece of artwork of Leonardo da Vinci's and it is one of the most popular paintings that depict the Jesus Christ with his twelve disciples at the dinner table. This painting is briefly providing a clear picture of both history and religion due to which it has always been fascinated with its unique imaging features. This painting illustrates the story from the Bible and is also providing a chance to its audience to view this piece of art in the town of Wieliczka in Poland. This replica is hand carved into the stone wall unlike the original painting on the wall of a church (Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008, Dominiczak 2012). This paper provides a critical and theoretical aspects of "Last Supper" to understand the uncovered meanings of historians and scholars.

Overview of Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardo da Vinci was a famous artist having his contributions in the area of painting, sculpture, science, mathematics, music, and philosophy. His inventions and discoveries are known to be remarkable as they have played a vital role in the development of society. Leonardo da Vinci was born on April 15, 1452 in Italy (Rosenberg 2002, Veltman 2008, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008). He attended private schools and reflects his extraordinary talent in music along with the ability to sing. Vinci's talents also included mathematics that could not last for long. In 1481, he created his well-known paintings known as "Adoration of the Magi" and "The Last Supper" (Dominiczak 2012, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008).

Analysis of "The Last Supper"

"The Last Supper" is a mural painting created by Leonardo da Vinci, which is located in the Italy at the Santa Maria delle Grazie Church. It is painted on the back wall of the churches dining hall, which is around 15 by 29 feet long. The theme for the painting was a traditional theme for refectories, however, the room was not a refectory at the time when Leonardo painted it. The main building of the church had been completed in 1948 but it was remodeled by Bramante hired by Ludovico Sforza to build a family mausoleum (Rosenberg 2002, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008, Dominiczak 2012, Veltman 2008). Leonardo did not work on it continuously and it has been reported that a complaint about his delay was sent to a monastery and Leonardo wrote to the head of the monastery that he had been struggling to find the face exactly like what he had in his mind otherwise he would use the features of those who complained about him. The style of this painting is called as a tempera that is a combination of egg yolk, vinegar, and oil paints applied on a dried plaster. Leonardo da Vinci created this masterpiece for Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Mila and this masterpiece took almost four years to be completed (Rosenberg 2002, Veltman 2008, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008, Dominiczak 2012).

"The Last Supper" is named after an event mentioned in the Bible in the gospels of Luke, Mark, and Matthew. Jesus Christ and his twelve disciples gather for a Passover dinner on the night before his death and during the dinner Jesus announced that one of his disciples will betray him to kill. The painting of Da Vinci illustrates this moment when disciples of Jesus get shocked by the fact they heard from Jesus. The painting illustrates thirteen men sitting behind a table and the man in the middle of the painting is Jesus Christ (Dominiczak 2012, Veltman 2008, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008, Rosenberg 2002). He is sitting with his closed eyes, hands on the table, and absence of any expression on his face. The twelve disciples have been grouped into four of three people each sharing a common expression in the painting. In the painting, on the far left side are the Bartholomew, James, and Andrew, and they are staring at Jesus with a puzzled look on their faces and eyes are wide open. The next group includes Judas, Peter, and Peter, and Judas is holding a bag of silver symbolizing a bribe he was given to betray Jesus, while Peter is leaning over and clenching a knife to protect Jesus, and John appears to sob. The next group of men is Thomas, Phillip, and James, and they appear to look surprised while appears to want an explanation from Jesus (Rosenberg 2002, Veltman 2008, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008, Dominiczak 2012, Dominiczak 2012).

Da Vinci has incorporated different elements and techniques in this painting and the perspective used in this painting was the tapering of lines forming the walls, windows, and ceiling of the room. It can give the room to provide illusion with a value and depth to the audiences. The head of Jesus is centered both horizontally and vertically and it makes the central focal point of the painting. The use of geometric shapes is highlighted in the painting as there are many rectangular patterns developed into the structure specifically on the table are round (Rosenberg 2002, Dominiczak 2012, Veltman 2008, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008). The painting is providing a use of a wide range of colors most specifically in the clothing of men in this masterpiece. The lighting effect is also incorporated in this painting as it is obvious that the left wall, back wall, and ceiling are dark as compared to the wall on the right (Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008, Dominiczak 2012, Rosenberg 2002).

Leonardo brought many small revolutions with this painting while advancing it may be considered as insignificant in the scientific and unspiritual age. First of all, he has to be broken with traditions regarding the position of Judas. Painters before Leonardo ensure that Judas was different to the rest of the Apostles and often by placing him alone on the side of the table or by making him the one without the halo. Leonardo places him together with the rest and none of his fingers have a halo (Veltman 2008, Rosenberg 2002, Dominiczak 2012, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008). This is the first painting in which the artist has struggled to depict the variety of human psychology. Apostle reacts in his own way and Leonardo depicts it using every possible method such as facial expression, body position, and gesture of the hands. Leonardo was considerably a master in this significant art work and he broke all the rules as the perspective appears to be wrong to the viewer as he stands in the refractory. The upper edge of the refractory might follow straight from the ceiling molding in the real room but they do not appear as it should be. The reason behind it is the Leonardo wanted to paint the fresco at a raised level so that it could be observed by all the monks in the room and because the Gospel depicted the Last Supper as having taken place in a room on an upper floor (Veltman 2008, Rosenberg 2002, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008, Dominiczak 2012).

Leonardo has taken his revolution a step further in such a way that the parallel between the twelve Apostles and the twelve signs of the zodiac had been noted before by him. However, none of the artist has expressed these signs in their paintings because the church do not approve of the contamination of doctrine with astrology (Dominiczak 2012, Rosenberg 2002, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008, Veltman 2008). Andrew, in the painting, third from left has two hands in the air and representing the Gemini the twins sign of double. Judas, the fourth in the sequence symbolizes a word having three meanings from Ancient Greek times named as the Cancer due to the signs of karkinos, and the crab. Peter with a fiery temper is the great mane of hair represents the Leo and the sixth in the sequence is a pale, delicate, and a feminine face represents a Virgo (Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008, Rosenberg 2002, Dominiczak 2012). Thomas, on the other side with raised finger alludes that he would say that he would not believe until he had placed his finger into the wounds on the hands of the Christ. His position represents the Libra, the sign of the zodiac that is hallmarked by perennial doubt. Thaddeus is holding his hand in a shape of the cup is representing the zodiac sign of the Aquarius (Dominiczak 2012, Veltman 2008, Rosenberg 2002, Dominiczak 2012, Schramm, Schwarte and Lazardzig 2008).

It is not that all the figures have such clear astrological attributes but it is sufficient to think about corroborating the theory. It may be considered as the thought regarding Leonardo might have risked getting into trouble with the church for his unorthodox approach considering the subject matter. He might want to paint a picture describing a scene from the Gospel and the momentous instant in time due to which he incorporated the scientific…

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