The Last Supper Painting

Complete Guide To The Last Supper Painting

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

About the Last Supper Painting

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

Medium Used to Create The Last Supper Painting

During the time of the Renaissance, when the Last Supper was painted, the fresco was a popular method used to paint walls. The artist must quickly paint over each day's fresh plaster before it cures and permanently adheres the color to the wall in a fresco painting. Fresco painting was not ideal for Leonardo as he was a perfectionist and takes time with his work. Leonardo chose to use an experimental method that involved two layers of dry preparatory ground and tempera or oil paint. 

As a result, the paint started to flake within a few years since the pigments were not securely bonded to the wall. The painting has sustained significant damage over the years and the refectory which houses the painting has been converted to a temperature-controlled setting to stop further degeneration.

the last supper painting - Composition of The Last Supper Painting

Composition of The Last Supper Painting

The apostles were typically portrayed as silently seated in a row at the table in traditional depictions of this biblical story, which Leonardo's image greatly departs from. The apostles are reeling in fear as they receive the insight after Christ has pronounced his upcoming betrayal. In stark contrast, Christ observes the chaos while remaining composed and resigned.

On his left and right, the twelve apostles naturally form groups of three and are connected by gestures and movements. It is a seamless blending of motions, that brings about an aura of life and chaos in a painting. A crisp light illuminates the area, bringing out each object in analytic clarity. The clever use of perspective in the Last Supper painting draws our attention to the center, which is dominated by the calm and reserved figure of Jesus.

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

Damage and Deterioration to The Last Supper Painting

Only 10 years after its completion, in 1517, Da Vinci's The Last Supper began to deteriorate. Tempera paint, which was employed on the drywall surface of the church, is assumed to have been the immediate cause of corrosion. The Santa Maria delle Grazie's altitude also renders the location susceptible to humidity and flooding.

The irregular arch-shaped structure near the painting's center base is the remnant of a doorway that was cut through it in 1652 and then bricked up. The Last Supper painting's home, the refectory, served as an armory and stable for anti-clerical French revolutionary forces in 1796. The refectory was bombed by the Allies on August 15, 1943, during World War II; protective sandbagging shielded the painting from bomb splinters but caused mild vibration damage.

the last supper painting - Last Supper Painting Restoration Efforts

Last Supper Painting Restoration Efforts

Pinin Brambilla Barcilon started the most significant restoration effort in 1978. The Last Supper painting had a thorough quality inspection, and Pinin Brambilla Barcilon was appointed to clean the painting's surface and then take care of any lingering effects of earlier conservation attempts. Watercolor paint was used to fill in severely damaged sections. To reduce the impact of potential environmental contamination on the artwork, the refectory was converted to a climate-controlled anti-humidity chamber.

The Last Supper painting was opened to the public on May 28, 1999, after a 21-year restoration process. Visitors had a 15-minute window and had to make reservations. The striking alterations in colors, tones, and even some facial forms caused much debate when it was first displayed to the public.

Last Supper Painting Facts

  • Da Vinci used a hammer and nail to get the perspective right for his Last Supper painting.
  • The Last Supper painting has undergone major restoration and has been subject to many restoration efforts.
  • There are three early copies of the Last Supper painting.
  • Even though the Last Supper is painted on a wall, it is not a fresco.

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 Dalí

In his 1955 painting The Sacrament of the Last Supper, Salvador Dal reimagined the Last Supper painting in his style. It carries the Dali style and takes on a surrealistic approach on a very popular subject. It is  one of the most popular paintings in the collection of the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.

the last supper painting - Andy Warhol

Andy Warhol

Warhol's final and largest series of paintings is the reinterpretation of the Last Supper painting by Leonardo da Vinci. The artwork of Andy Warhol, produced in 1986–1987, is a great summary of his central theme and the culmination of a career in which subversion and irony are the ultimate guiding principles. These iconic mass-produced images of one of the most iconic images in art history combine fine art and Pop art. Warhol was drawn to Leonardo's iconic paintings because they fit his aesthetic philosophy of elevating commonplace, instantly recognizable imagery to the level of fine art.

the last supper painting - Francis Newton Souza

Francis Newton Souza

The Last Supper by Francis Newton Souza, which was painted in 1990, boldly builds up on the original themes and concepts. Anxiety and dismay is depicted by the Apostle's distorted and deformed visage in Souza's iteration of the Last Supper painting. 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.

How to View the Last Supper in Milan?

Skip-the-line Guided Tour of Da Vinci's Last Supper

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Historical Tour of Milan and the Last Supper

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Best of Milan Duomo Cathedral & Da Vinci's 'Last Supper' Tour

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Milan in One Day - With Duomo, Last Supper & Downtown Tour

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Renaissance Treasures Guided Walking Tour of Milan with ‘The Last Supper’

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Combo (Save 5%) : Leonardo's Vineyard + Last Supper Tickets

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Self-Guided Audio Tour of Santa Maria delle Grazie

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Frequently Asked Questions About The Last Supper Painting

Q. Where is the original Last Supper painting?

A. 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.

Q. Why was the Last Supper painting created?

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

Q. How does the Last Supper painting represent the Renaissance?

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

Q. What is the meaning behind the Last Supper painting?

A. The Last Supper painting captures the moment Christ tells his Apostles that one of them will betray him

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

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

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

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

Q. How big is the Last Supper painting?

A. The Last Supper painting measures 460 cm × 880 cm (180 in × 350 in) and covers the north wall of the refectory at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.

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