Last Supper - By Leonardo da Vinci

Last Supper - By Leonardo da Vinci Philosophy Visual Arts Tragedies and Triumphs

The Easter Story has been depicted by artists for centuries, especially during Medieval and Renaissance times.  When many people could not read, works of art helped them to learn about various topics, including religious subjects. 

Those traditions are reflected hereafter, with numerous examples of Easter-story paintings currently owned by national galleries and museums throughout the world. 

Seen above is the famous "Last Supper," by Leonardo da Vinci.  Created in 1498, with mixed technique, the fresco is located at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, Italy.

This work of art is located on the end wall of the refectory. In other words ... this is the place (the refectory) where monks gathered to eat. And ... when they ate ... this is the painting they could see.

The monks, who worked at the Santa Maria delle Grazie and maintained vows of silence, would not speak to each other during meals. Instead, they could ponder this fresco which took Leonardo three years to create.

Why Da Vinci, a famous artist, create his masterpiece in a church of relatively modest appearance (instead of in a more-famous place)?  The answer is there was a plan - an ambitious plan - to transform the Santa Maria delle Grazie into a magnificent mausoleum for the Sforza family.

Alas, for the Sforzas, Ludovico il Moro Sforza fell from power around two years after Da Vinci finished “The Last Supper.”  Instead of being buried in a mausoleum, he died in a French dungeon where he spent the last eight years of his life.

Here’s another question: Did Da Vinci use sketches for his monumental fresco?  If so ... where are they?

The answer is “yes.” In addition to his extensive research, on the topic, Da Vinci created many sketches. Twenty of them still exist and are maintained at Windsor Castle’s Royal Library. They have been there since around 1600.

It’s pretty difficult to maintain a painting produced on a wall - like this fresco - because it cannot be moved to a safe place during times of war.  Was Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” ever at risk during its long life?

The answer to that question is also yes - and more than once.  When Napoleon’s troops were in Milan, they used the wall for ... target practice!  More recently, during August of 1943, Allied bombs tore-off the room’s roof. During the rest of WWII, and for another year after that, “The Last Supper” was exposed to the elements.

After so much external damage - not to mention the damage from time itself - Da Vinci’s fantastic work has been painstakingly restored. Although it no-longer reflects the wonder of its original creation, it is still breathtaking to behold.

Click on the image for a greatly enlarged view.

See, also, the following works of art - from Medieval and Renaissance times - depicting various aspects of the Easter story, beginning with the "Resurrection of Lazarus" by Duccio. 

Note that most of the works can be expanded to full-screen views by simply clicking on the image after it first appears.  The expanded view will open a new window.  

"Resurrection of Lazarus" - By Duccio

"Raising of Lazarus" - Fresco by Giotto

Lazarus, After the Miracle - By Albrecht Dürer

"Christ in the House of Martha and Mary" - By Tintoretto

"Christ in the House of Martha and Mary" - By Cornelis Engebrechtsz

"Triumphal Entry" - Jean de Berry's Book of Hours

"Entry into Jerusalem" - Fresco by Giotto di Bondone

Sanhedrin, In Session

Upper Room - Place of the Last Supper

Video about Leonardo da Vinci, creator of "The Last Supper" (shown above).  This clip opens in a new window.

Dinner in the Upper Room, on Maundy Thursday - From "Scenes from the Passion of Christ," by Hans Memling

Washing of Feet - Fresco by Giotto, from "The Life of Christ" series

Judas, Known as Judas Iscariot - Detail from the "Last Supper," by Andrea del Castagno

Pact of Judas, Money for Betrayal - By Duccio di Buoninsegna

Judas' Betrayal - Fresco by Giotto, from the Life of Christ series

The Garden of Gethsemane

"Agony in the Garden" - By Andrea Mantegna

Judas Leads Soldiers to the Garden - Detail from "Agony in the Garden," by Mantegna

Judas Kiss - Fresco by Giotto, from the Life of Christ series

"The Arrest of Christ" - By unknown Italian master

"Christ Taken Prisoner" - By Duccio

Arrest Under Cover of Darkness - Detail from "The Passion," by Holbein the Younger

Trial of Jesus - Steps at the House of Caiaphas

House of Caiaphas - Reputed Location

House of Caiaphas - Place of First Trial

House of Caiaphas - Narrow Opening into Dungeon

House of Caiaphas - Lowering a Prisoner into the Dungeon

"Christ Before Caiaphas," Trial of Jesus - Woodcut by Albrecht Dürer

"Christ Before Caiaphas," (Caiaphas Rips His Robe) - Fresco, by Giotto, from Scenes from the Life of Christ

Ecce Homo, ("Behold the Man") - By Hieronymus Bosch

"Christus before Pilate" - By Hans Multscher

"Christ Before Pilate," (The Interrogation) - by Tintoretto

"Ecce Homo," (Pilate Finds no Fault) - Engraving by Lucas van Leyden

"Christ Before Herod" - By Duccio

Trial of Jesus, Herod Antipas Gives Jesus a Robe - By Duccio

Judas Commits Suicide - Akeldama, "Field of Blood"

Field of Blood - A View of Akeldama

"Christ Before Pilate Again" - By Duccio

"Crowning with Thorns" - By Anthony van Dyck

"Ecce Homo," Pilate Addresses the Crowd - By unknown Flemish Master

Pilate Washes His Hands, Absolving Himself of Responsibility  - By Hans Multscher

Executions in Jerusalem, Outside the City Gates - By Jan and Kaspar Luyken

"Christ Carrying the Cross" - By Bruegel the Elder

"Christ Falls on the Way to Calvary" - By Raphael

"Disrobing of Christ" - By El Greco

"The Calvary" - By Andrea Mantegna

"Crucifixion" - By Hans Memling

"Christ on the Cross Adored by Two Donors" - By El Greco

"Golgatha" - By Pordenone

"Deposition," Removing the Body from the Cross - By Duccio

"The Lamentation over the Dead Christ" - By Andrea Mantegna

"Deposition of Christ," (Preparing the Body) - By Fra Angelico

"The Dead Christ" - By Vittore Carpaccio

"Resurrection" - By Andrea Mantegna

Mary Magdalene, Detail from "Noli me Tangere" - By Giotto di Bondone

"Scenes from the Life of Mary Magdalene" - By Giotto di Bondone

"Noli me Tangere," (Do not Touch Me) - By Titian

"Landscape with Christ and the Men of Emmaus" -  By Herri met de Bles a/k/a Herry de Patinir a/k/a "Il Civetta"

"Christ and His Disciples on Their Way to Emmaus" - By Pieter Coecke van Aelst

"Appearance Behind Locked Doors" - By Duccio

"Supper at Emmaus" - By Caravaggio

"The Incredulity of Saint Thomas," or the Doubting of Thomas - By Caravaggio

"Christ at the Sea of Galilee" - by Tintoretto

"Ascension of Christ" - By Garofalo

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5189stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Dec 11, 2019

Media Credits

"Last Supper" image online, courtesy Wikimedia Commons.


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"Last Supper - By Leonardo da Vinci" AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Dec 10, 2019.
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