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Secrets of The Last Supper | Decoding the painting’s hidden meaning

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is known for its artistic brilliance and for capturing the poignant moment of Jesus Christ's last meal with his disciples before his crucifixion. But did you know that it is also shrouded in mystery and intrigue? From wild theories involving Mary Magdalene to shadowy controversies about hidden messages, this painting keeps art historians and curious minds buzzing with excitement and wonder. Here’s all you need to know about its deepest and darkest secrets!

Hidden symbols in The Last Supper: What do they mean?

Secrets of The Last Supper

Can you hear the betrayal?

In 2007, computer technician and musician Giovanni Maria Pala proposed the idea that there is a melody hidden within the painting. He suggested that the horizontal lines of the tablecloth that intersect with the bread and the disciples' hands correspond to musical notes. Played backwards, you get melancholic requiem, meant to be played on a pipe organ, which reflects the somber moment. While the theory highlights the artist's potential for complex symbolism and hidden messages within his work, whether da Vinci deliberately placed these elements as musical notes or they're simply coincidental interpretations remains a debate.

Secrets of The Last Supper

Da Vinci did the Math

We've heard about Leonardo da Vinci's fascination with numbers. Here, specific numbers, particularly three and four, take on symbolic meaning. The apostles are grouped in threes, with Jesus at the center. There are three windows behind Jesus and his figure forms a triangle with the table. This use of threes is a reference to the Holy Trinity in Christianity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). The fours symbolize the four evangelists. The apostles sit in four groups, the walls feature four sets of tapestries with three spaces between them. This interplay of numbers might represent the connection between the divine (God) and the earthly (humans).

Secrets of The Last Supper

The dance with the Fibonacci series

The mysterious dance between art and Mathematics doesn't end with da Vinci's obsession with 3s and 4s! The painting's interpretation can align with the Fibonacci series, which features one table, a central figure, two side walls, three windows, and figures arranged in threes. But it doesn't end there; oh no, the Fibonacci spirit weaves deeper still. There are five groups of figures, eight panels on the walls, eight table legs, and a total of 13 individual figures.

Secrets of The Last Supper

Spilled salt is bad luck

Ever heard of the superstition that spilled salt is bad luck? One among The Last Supper's secrets is when a curious moment unfolds: There is a solemn gathering of Christ and his disciples, frozen in time like ghosts of a distant memory. Among them sits Judas Iscariot, his presence a shadowy figure amidst the sacred company. And there, right next to him, lies spilled salt, scattered like seeds of fate upon the table. We know what this means: betrayal is coming.

Secrets of The Last Supper

What's up with the fish?

Before the Apostle Andrew lies a plate laden with fish, likely a nod to the Gospel accounts where several apostles were fishermen before their calling by Jesus. These fish also symbolize Christ himself, harking back to the early Christian ichthus symbol. The debate over whether the fish depicted are eel or herring adds a layer of intrigue. In Italian, "eel" sounds like "indoctrination," while "herring" in northern Italy can denote religious denial.

However, the addition of oranges to the table complicates matters. Oranges were not common in 1st-century Jerusalem, sparking various interpretations. Some suggest Da Vinci used them to subtly distance Jesus from his Jewish roots, while others link them to a 15th-century story where eels and oranges symbolized gluttony. Though Da Vinci's intentions remain unclear, it's evident he added these elements for his own artistic reasons, as there's no precedent for including eels on The Last Supper table in Judeo-Christian iconography.

Secrets of The Last Supper

No fine dining, just bread and wine

Imagine this: a simple loaf of bread and a cup of wine, transformed into vessels of profound significance. The bread and the wine in The Last Supper are symbols of something far greater—the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Jesus instructs his disciples to partake in this sacred ritual, a symbolic act of remembrance for his ultimate sacrifice.

This ritual, known as communion or the Eucharist, serves as a cornerstone of the Christian faith, symbolizing not only unity with Christ but also a profound connection to his teachings. As believers partake in the bread and wine, they are invited to experience the essence of Christ's message, to embody his love, and to carry forth his legacy in the world. It's a spiritual communion that transcends time and space, binding believers together in a shared understanding of faith and redemption.

Secrets of The Last Supper

Not the pomegranate from Hell again

The pomegranate is always bad news, isn't it? But no, this isn't about Persephone eating the seed and sealing her fate to dwell in the underworld. In The Last Supper, the pomegranate depicted on the table holds symbolic significance. The pomegranate's ripe kernels are believed to symbolize the drops of blood Jesus shed to save humanity, emphasizing the sacrificial nature of his impending crucifixion.

Secrets of The Last Supper

Hidden Judas and why it's shady

What's a bigger secret in The Last Supper than the betrayer himself? Judas is the only Apostle with a hidden face, cloaked in shadows, symbolizing the ‘movement of the soul’. His hands, one reaching for bread and the other clutching a purse of money, symbolize his dual role in betraying Jesus.

Conspiracy theories about The Last Supper

Secrets of The Last Supper

Is that Mary Magdalene or just a youthful John?

Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code popularized the theory that the figure to Jesus' right is not John the Apostle, but Mary Magdalene. Proponents point to the figure's long hair and supposed feminine features. However, art historians widely reject this claim, stating the figure is simply John depicted in a youthful and androgynous manner, as was common in Renaissance art as well as Da Vinci's other works.
Beyond artistic conventions, there are several compelling reasons why Mary Magdalene's presence at the Last Supper is unlikely. All four Gospels depict The Last Supper participants, and Mary Magdalene is not listed among them. And Renaissance art generally favored male figures in prominent religious roles, reflecting societal and religious hierarchies of the period.

Secrets of The Last Supper

Is there a painting within the painting?

According to computer analyst Slavisa Pesci, he stumbled upon another painting within Leonardo's masterpiece in his high-tech analysis. After flipping and superimposing the image onto the original, he claims to have found a depiction of a woman holding a baby. Pesci further alleges the presence of a Knight of Templar at the table's end, hinting at their connection to the Holy Grail. He also suggests a chalice before Christ and even spots a self-portrait of da Vinci at the painting's center. Pesci's theory ignited a frenzy online, crashing numerous da Vinci websites shortly after its reveal. While some dismiss Pesci's claims, others remain intrigued by the possibility of hidden meanings in the iconic artwork.

Secrets of The Last Supper

Van Gogh: Art imitates art

There's a popular and provocative theory rocking the art world that says Van Gogh hid a homage to the painting in his own. Apparently, Vincent van Gogh concealed a tribute to Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (1495-98) within his renowned work Café Terrace at Night (1888). Upon closer examination, the painting showcases a central figure with long hair amidst 12 others, alongside a solitary figure fading into the shadows.

Secrets of The Last Supper

The theory that Jesus was an ordinary man

An Italian inventor and expert in Da Vinci's art, who spent 15 years studying the artist's work, suggests that Leonardo da Vinci's The Last Supper contains a hidden message hinting that Jesus was mortal. Unlike other paintings portraying Jesus and his 12 followers as saints with halos, Da Vinci's rendition stands out. The absence of halos, according to the researcher, signifies Da Vinci's intention to portray Jesus as an ordinary person.

Secrets of The Last Supper

Da Vinci hung around jails to get The Last Supper painting right

It's widely believed that Leonardo da Vinci used real people as models for the faces of the apostles in his paintings. Legend has it that he sought inspiration from Milanese criminals for Judas's face, the figure fourth from the left, who famously betrayed Jesus. There's even speculation that da Vinci included his own likeness in the mural, portraying himself as St. James the Less.

Secrets of The Last Supper

Is The Last Supper haunted?

Here's a scary little secret: A mirror image, the reversed or reflected likeness of the scene, shows some very creepy images. A lot of the Apostles look like skeletons or animals like horses and dogs. Jesus himself appears to be a goat or some sort of creature with two horns. Some believe that this is a Satanic clue within the painting.




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