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The Last Supper Painting: A Masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci

Introducing the Last Supper Painting in Milan

Discover Milan's crown jewel, the Last Supper painting, a masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci that transcends time and artistry. This iconic work of Renaissance art not only captures the essence of a pivotal biblical moment but also serves as a symbol of Milan's rich cultural heritage. Housed within the hallowed walls of the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, this painting's architectural and historical context enhances its allure. Join us on a journey to explore the significance in every brushstroke of this renowned artwork.

The Last Supper Painting | Details

the last supper painting
  • Official Title : The Last Supper (Italian: Il Cenacolo)
  • Artist : Leonardo da Vinci
  • Year : 1495–1498
  • Media : Tempera on gesso, pitch, and mastic
  • Dimensions : 460 cm × 880 cm (181 in × 346 in)
  • Location : Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, Italy
  • Commissioned by: Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan
  • UNESCO World Heritage Site: Yes, since 1980
  • Artistic Significance: This masterpiece is renowned for its groundbreaking perspective techniques and profound emotional portrayal.

All About The Last Supper Painting

the last supper painting

Painting's Subject

Also known as "Il Cenacolo," The Last Supper portrays the moment from the New Testament when Jesus Christ shares his final meal with the twelve apostles before his crucifixion. In this pivotal scene, Jesus reveals that one of his disciples will betray him, evoking intense emotions among the apostles. Unlike traditional depictions emphasizing Jesus's divinity with a halo, da Vinci used perspective and symmetry to focus attention on the central figure, Jesus.

the last supper painting - Medium Used to Create The Last Supper Painting

Medium For The Painting

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. To preserve it, the refectory housing the painting was transformed into a temperature-controlled setting.

the last supper painting - Composition of The Last Supper Painting

The Composition

In Leonardo's Last Supper, the apostles react with fear and disarray after Christ's betrayal revelation, a departure from traditional portrayals. Christ, however, remains composed. The apostles naturally form groups of three on his left and right, connected by gestures, creating a dynamic sense of life and chaos. Clever perspective use directs focus to the calm and reserved figure of Jesus at the center, while crisp lighting enhances object clarity.

Importance of The Last Supper Painting in Milan

The Last Supper holds an irreplaceable position in Milan's cultural tapestry. It acts as a magnetic force, drawing global tourists and art aficionados to the city. Milan's stature as an art and culture hub is significantly enhanced by this masterpiece, which stands as a testament to the city's rich heritage. 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.

Where is the Last Supper Painting Located?

the last supper painting - location

History of the Last Supper Painting

the last supper painting - Damage and Deterioration to The Last Supper Painting

The Commissioning of the Artwork

The Last Supper painting was commissioned as part of the renovation of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan in the late 15th century. The specific commissioning year was 1495.

the last supper painting - Last Supper Painting Restoration Efforts

Leonardo da Vinci: The Mastermind

Leonardo da Vinci, one of the most renowned artists of the Italian Renaissance, was chosen to create this masterpiece. It's important to note that da Vinci wasn't just a painter but also a scientist, inventor, and polymath.

Unconventional Technique & Perspective

Da Vinci chose an unconventional technique for this artwork. This experimental approach contributed to both the painting's brilliance and its later deterioration. Additionally, innovative use of one-point perspective make this artwork a masterpiece in terms of composition and depth.

The Lasting Impact

Over the centuries, the painting has faced considerable challenges, including neglect, wartime bombings, and environmental factors. However, extensive restoration efforts, notably the 21-year project led by Pinin Brambilla Barcilon from 1978 to 1999, ensured the survival and restoration of this masterpiece.

UNESCO World Heritage Status

In 1980, the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, along with the Last Supper painting, was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This recognition highlights the immense cultural and historical value of this artwork.

Preserving a Masterpiece

Today, the Last Supper painting is carefully preserved in a temperature-controlled setting within the refectory to prevent further degeneration. It stands as a testament to both Leonardo da Vinci's genius and the enduring cultural significance of Milan.

Early Copies of The Last Supper Painting

Copy by Giampietrino
Copy by Andrea Solari
Copy by Cesare da Sesto
the last supper painting - Copy by Giampietrino

You can notice elements in this replica that are no longer visible in the original, like the salt cellar next to Judas's right arm. Jesus' feet are also visible, which were obscured in the original when a door was incorporated into the wall that the original Last Supper painting was painted on.

Year : 1515-20

Medium : Oil on canvas

Location : Royal Academy of Arts, London

the last supper painting - Copy by Andrea Solari

The replica of "The Last Supper" has been residing in Tongerlo Abbey since 1545. The American scholar, art historian, and Da Vinci specialist Jean-Pierre Isbouts asserts that the artist himself painted John's face. His conclusions are drawn from the most recent scans performed at the IMEC research facility in Heverlee.

Year : 1520

Medium : Oil on Canvas

Location : Leonardo da Vinci Museum of the Tongerlo Abbey, Belgium

the last supper painting - Copy by Cesare da Sesto

Milanese painter Cesare da Sesto (1477–1523) was one of Leonardo da Vinci's first students and followers. He produced a lot of replicas of Leonardo, who was his inspiration. This led to one of the existing copies of the original Last Supper painting.

Year : 1550

Medium : Oil on Canvas

Location : Church of St. Ambrogio in Ponte Capriasca, Switzerland

Last Supper in Modern Art

the last supper painting

Salvador Dali's "The Sacrament of the Last Supper" (1955)

Salvador Dali's 1955 masterpiece, "The Sacrament of the Last Supper," reimagined this iconic scene in his surrealistic style. The painting, housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., features elongated, distorted figures in a dreamlike setting, a departure from traditional depictions. The intriguing interpretation of the Last Supper invites viewers to contemplate themes of faith and spirituality.

the last supper painting - Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol's "The Last Supper" Series (1986)

Andy Warhol's 1986–1987 series reinterprets Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper. These iconic artworks represent the culmination of Warhol's career, marked by subversion and irony. Combining fine art and Pop art, Warhol elevates commonplace, recognizable imagery to fine art status. His fascination with Leonardo's iconic painting aligns with his philosophy, creating a unique fusion of art history and contemporary culture.

Banksy's "The Last Supper" (2004)

Banksy's "The Last Supper," created in 2004, offers a provocative twist on the iconic biblical scene. This contemporary artwork features Jesus and his disciples enjoying a meal, but their faces are obscured by iconic masks, lending an air of anonymity and intrigue. Banksy's piece challenges conventional norms and adds a modern, thought-provoking layer to the traditional narrative of the Last Supper.

the last supper painting - Francis Newton Souza

Francis Newton Souza's "The Last Supper" (1990)

Francis Newton Souza's "The Last Supper" (1990) reinterprets the classic scene with distorted, anxious apostles. The white-jacketed person at Jesus's left in Souza's painting echoes John's melancholy, downward-looking stare from Leonardo's masterpiece. Christ features a calm and relaxed figure in the 15th-century conception, while Souza's figure looks straight at the audience.

Zeng Fanzhi's "The Last Supper" (2001)

Zeng Fanzhi's "The Last Supper" (2001) offers a contemporary take on the iconic biblical scene. Known for his expressive style, Fanzhi's interpretation features bold brushstrokes and intense colors, conveying a sense of emotional tension among the disciples. This artwork reflects the artist's ability to infuse a timeless subject with his distinctive modern aesthetic, creating a striking visual contrast to traditional representations.

Peter Greenaway's "The Last Supper" (2007)

In Peter Greenaway's "The Last Supper" (2007), the artist explores a unique cinematic format. Greenaway's interpretation combines elements of film, visual art, and multimedia to present a contemporary perspective on the Last Supper. Through innovative storytelling and immersive visuals, he invites viewers to engage with this timeless narrative in a thought-provoking and unconventional way, blurring the boundaries between art and cinema.




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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Milan: City Walking Tour with Milan Cathedral & Last Supper Guided tour
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Milan in a Day: Guided Tour of Downtown, Last Supper, Milan Cathedral & Duomo Museum Pass
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Renaissance Treasures Guided Walking Tour of Milan with ‘The Last Supper’
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Combo (Save 5%): Da Vinci's Last Supper Skip-the-Line Guided Tour + YesMilano City Pass: Attractions & Free Public Transport
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Frequently Asked Questions About The Last Supper Painting

Who painted the Last Supper?

The Last Supper in Milan was painted by the renowned Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci between 1495 and 1498. Leonardo da Vinci is celebrated for his exceptional contributions to the world of art, science, and innovation during the Italian Renaissance.

Where is The Last Supper painting located?

The original Last Supper painted by Leonardo da Vinci is located in the north wall of the refectory in the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Is The Last Supper painting a fresco?

No, it's not a fresco, which was a popular method for wall paintings during that era. Leonardo chose a different, experimental approach for this iconic artwork.

What is the size of The Last Supper painting?

The dimensions of The Last Supper painting in Milan are approximately 460 cm × 880 cm (181 in × 346 in). It's quite large and impressive!

Why was the Last Supper painting created?

The Last Supper was painted as part of a project to repair the church and its structures by Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan.

Why is The Last Supper painting famous?

The Last Supper is famous for several reasons. It's not just a religious masterpiece but also renowned for its innovative perspective techniques. Plus, it captures the emotions of the disciples vividly.

How does the Last Supper Milan represent the Renaissance?

The Last Supper painting depicts concepts of realism and classicism which define the renaissance movement.

Can I visit The Last Supper painting?

Yes, you can visit The Last Supper painting in Milan. However, it's a good idea to book tickets well in advance because it's quite popular.

What medium did Leonardo da Vinci use for The Last Supper painting?

Leonardo da Vinci used a unique combination of tempera on gesso, pitch, and mastic to create The Last Supper. It's one of the reasons why this painting is so special.

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

Leonardo da Vinci was around forty-three years old when he painted The Last Supper,

What did Leonardo da Vinci use to paint the Last Supper?

Leonardo da Vinci used an oil/tempera mix and applied it to a dry wall to create the Last Supper painting.

Why is The Last Supper painting in a controlled environment?

To preserve this masterpiece, The Last Supper is housed in a controlled environment. This helps protect it from environmental factors that could cause deterioration.

What is the historical significance of The Last Supper painting?

The painting depicts the moment when Jesus reveals his upcoming betrayal, making it historically significant as it captures this pivotal event in Christian history.

Are there any other versions or copies of The Last Supper painting?

Yes, over the years, many artists have created their own interpretations and copies of The Last Supper, each with their unique perspective.

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

You can purchase tickets online or from authorized Last Supper Milan ticket platform. It's recommended to plan ahead due to its popularity.

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.

Can I join guided tours to learn more about The Last Supper painting?

Absolutely! Last Supper tours are a fantastic way to dive deeper into the history and significance of The Last Supper. Knowledgeable guides can offer fascinating insights.

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