Last Supper
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The Last Supper painting in Milan, a Renaissance masterpiece

See Milan's crown jewel, The Last Supper painting, a masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci that transcends time and artistry. This Renaissance artwork shows an important story from the Bible and represents Milan's rich cultural history. Painted on the wall of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan between 1495 and 1498, the artwork has been restored and is loved for its creativity and impact. It is famous in pop culture and has influenced lots of art from the Renaissance.

The Last Supper in a nutshell

The Last Supper
  • Official name: The Last Supper, Cenacolo (Italian)
  • Location: Santa Maria delle Grazie church, Milan, Italy (Find on maps)
  • Artist: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Year: Painted between 1495 and 1498
  • Media: Tempera on gesso, pitch, and mastic
  • Dimensions: 460 cm × 880 cm (181 in × 346 in)
  • Style: Renaissance art
  • Subject: Depicts Jesus and his 12 apostles during the last meal before Jesus' arrest.
  • Timings: Tuesday to Sunday from 8:15am to 7pm
  • Commissioned by: Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Since 1980

Why is The Last Supper important?

The Last Supper

The Last Supper is important in Christianity, art history and Milan tourism. It also holds significance for being a masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci. Painted in the late 15th century, it's renowned for its amazing art techniques and emotional story. It has lasted for 500 years, has survived many catastrophes and holds an irreplaceable position in Milan's cultural tapestry. It acts as a magnetic force, drawing global tourists and art aficionados to the city. The Last Supper's profound impact on Milan's tourism sector underscores its vital role in the city's economy, as well as the immense pride the Milanese people take in safeguarding this iconic work of art.

Plan your Last Supper visit

The Last Supper
The Last Supper



How to view the Last Supper in Milan?

Da Vinci's Last Supper Skip-the-Line Guided Tour
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Milan: City Center and Last Supper Guided Tour
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2 hr. - 3 hr.
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Milan: City Walking Tour with Milan Cathedral & Last Supper Guided tour
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3 hr.
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Milan in a Day: Guided Tour of Downtown, Last Supper, Milan Cathedral & Duomo Museum Pass
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6 hr.
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Who painted The Last Supper painting?

The Last Supper

The painting's subject

The Last Supper

The last meal of Jesus with the apostles

Also recognized as Il Cenacolo, Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper captures the profound scene detailed in the New Testament, wherein Jesus Christ shares his final meal with his 12 apostles, marking a poignant moment before his crucifixion.

The Last Supper

The revelation of betrayal

In this crucial moment, Jesus reveals that one of his closest followers will betray him, stirring intense emotions among the apostles. Leonardo da Vinci's painting vividly captures their shock and confusion as they grapple with this revelation, adding depth to the Last Supper story. One of them even asks, ‘Is it me, my Lord?’ in incredulity.

The Last Supper

Departure from traditional iconography

In contrast to traditional representations that depict Jesus with a halo to emphasize his divinity, Leonardo da Vinci's approach in The Last Supper diverges by utilizing perspective and symmetry. Through these artistic techniques, da Vinci directs attention to the central figure, Jesus, without the conventional halo. This deliberate omission underscores Jesus' humanity while acknowledging his divine significance. 

Technique and composition of the painting

The Last Supper

Medium

During the Renaissance, fresco painting was prevalent, but Da Vinci employed a unique technique for this masterpiece. Unlike traditional frescoes painted on wet plaster, he used tempera on gesso, pitch, and mastic, offering more flexibility and time for meticulous detailing. However, the unconventional method caused paint flaking within a few years due to poor pigment adhesion to the wall.

The Last Supper

Perspective

In The Last Supper art, perspective helps make the painting feel real. The lines and positions of things draw your eyes to Jesus in the middle, making him stand out. This makes the scene important and makes you feel like you're there with the characters.

The Last Supper

Light and Shadow

Leonardo da Vinci employed chiaroscuro, a method of contrasting light and shadow, to add depth and realism to the figures. Light falls on the apostles' faces, revealing their emotions, while shadows create drama and mystery in the painting.

The Last Supper

The Grouping of Apostles

The arrangement of the apostles has stirred much discussion among art historians. Leonardo da Vinci's portrayal depicts Christ's disciples organized in groups of three, a composition laden with symbolic significance. This grouping reflects the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, a central tenet of Christian belief, where Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are united in divine harmony.

The mood of the painting

The Last Supper

Anger

Anger simmers within Matthew, his wild, swinging hands and tense posture revealing a simmering frustration. His fervent dedication to his cause fuels the flames of indignation, his righteous anger burning bright against perceived injustices, whether worldly or spiritual.

The Last Supper

Shock

Andrew's face registers shock, and his hands are in the air, as if struggling to comprehend the gravity of the momentous occasion. The unexpected revelations and unfolding events leave him stunned, caught in a whirlwind of disbelief and uncertainty, his world momentarily upended by the revelations before him.

The Last Supper

Calmness

Amid all the feelings, Jesus sits calmly, his peaceful look and relaxed manner making everyone around him feel safe and sure. His presence is like a steady rock in a rough sea, giving comfort and strength to his followers in their worries and confusion. He shines like a light of unwavering faith and heavenly peace amid all the human struggles and emotions.

The Last Supper

Fear

Fear grips the hearts of James Major and Philip, as they sit in stunned silence and turn towards Jesus for more clarity. The grief of not being able to understand the revelation of Christ to its full extent is also clearly visible here.

History of The Last Supper artwork 

1495-1497: Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan, to create The Last Supper as part of the renovation of the Santa Maria della Grazie. He worked on this masterpiece for two years, capturing the pivotal moment when Jesus announced that one of his disciples would betray him.

Early 16th century: The paint deteriorates due to the unconventional medium.

18th century: The painting suffered significant damage due to neglect, wartime bombings, and environmental factors and misguided restoration attempts, resulting in loss of original detail and color.

19th century: Efforts were made to restore the artwork, but challenges persisted.

20th century: The Last Supper survived bombings during World War II, showcasing its resilience. A 21-year restoration project led by Pinin Brambilla Barcilon was initiated. Advanced scientific techniques were employed to remove contaminants and reveal the original brilliance.

The story of the Last Supper

The Last Supper story

The story of The Last Supper is a rather moving one. The painting portrays the moment when Jesus announces that one of his disciples will betray him. It begins with Jesus and his apostles gathering for a special dinner during Passover. While they enjoyed the meal, Jesus confided in them about what he knew. The apostles couldn't believe it and asserted that none of them would betray him. 

Then, Jesus did something important: He took bread, blessed it, and shared it with them. He said the bread was his body, about to be sacrificed for them. He did the same with wine, saying it represented his blood, which would save them. This became the tradition of communion. After that, Jesus surprised everyone by washing their feet, showing that serving others was important. One of the apostles, Peter, did not like it at first, but Jesus explained that it was a lesson in humility. 

And so, that night became known as The Last Supper, a time when Jesus showed his love, even in the face of betrayal.

Frequently asked questions about The Last Supper

Why is The Last Supper painting famous?

The Last Supper is famous for several reasons. It captures a big moment in religious history and focuses on the emotional world of the apostles. It is also famous because of how well it has survived abuse, including a world war, and has had the resilience to last for 500 years.

How old was da Vinci when he painted the Last Supper?

Leonardo da Vinci was around 43 years old when he painted The Last Supper.

Is photography allowed inside the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie?

Unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside the church to ensure the preservation of this precious artwork.

How does Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper painting differ from earlier depictions of the same scene in art history?

It breaks from earlier depictions by focusing on the dramatic moment of Jesus' betrayal announcement, showcasing individual reactions and human emotions rather than traditional symmetry. 

What are some hidden details in The Last Supper?

Leonardo da Vinci's arrangement of figures and their gestures symbolize the Christian doctrine of the Holy Trinity and the sacrament of communion. The painting also holds some strange secrets and conspiracy theories, one of which is the presence of Mary Magdalene.

What is the significance of the food depicted on the table?

The food depicted on the table in The Last Supper symbolizes the bread and wine of the Eucharist, central elements of the Christian sacrament of communion, representing the body and blood of Christ.

How did The Last Supper influence later art and culture?

The painting has profoundly influenced later art and culture by setting a standard for composition, symbolism, and storytelling in religious art. Its innovative use of perspective, emotional depth, and narrative complexity inspired countless artists and became an enduring symbol of Christian faith and iconography in Western culture. It is also a pop culture reference, as can be seen in South Park and shows like The Simpsons.

What are some myths or misconceptions about The Last Supper?

Several myths and misconceptions surround The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci. One common misconception is that Mary Magdalene is depicted among the disciples, while in reality, there is no historical or biblical evidence to support this claim. Another misconception is that the painting accurately depicts the moment Jesus institutes the Eucharist, whereas it actually captures the moment when Jesus announces his impending betrayal by one of the disciples. Additionally, some people believe that the painting's deterioration was solely due to Leonardo's experimental techniques, but it was also affected by environmental factors and restoration attempts over the centuries.

How can I get tickets to see The Last Supper in Milan?

You can purchase tickets online or from an authorized Last Supper Milan ticket platform. It's recommended that you plan six weeks or more in advance due to its popularity.