May 24, 2018
Image Source: wikimedia
Each year on Maundy Thursday, the Catholic church reverently remembers the last meal that Jesus Christ had with his disciples. The quintessential painting that depicts this scene is Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. Mentioned below are few mindboggling facts about Da Vinci’s renowned masterpiece.
(1) The subject matter wasn’t chosen by Da Vinci
The work was originally commissioned by Lodovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan. Similar to most commissioned works, the subject matter was chosen “for” Da Vinci.
(2) The painting was considered to be a failure
Begun in the year 1495, the methodology employed by Da Vinci to make the painting was an experiment that failed. Instead of choosing to paint in wet plaster, as was the custom of that time, Da Vinci opted to paint on dry plaster. The quick result was that it was stunning; however, in the long run, it lacked durability.
(3) Jesus “originally” had feet
In Da Vinci’s original mural, Jesus Christ had feet; however, in 1650, an additional door was subsequently added to the refectory, and the painting’s portion beneath Jesus was literally deleted. What we get to see is an ancient doorway.
(4) The food on the table is not merely bread and wine
Several pieces of unleavened bread and cups of wine from the traditional iconography are seen on the table. However, during the restoration carried out in 1999, it was found that the table also held a platter of eel that was garnished with bits of orange.
(5) Napoleon’s officers vandalised the painting
In the year 1796, the room in which the painting hangs was utilized as a stable for the horses of French soldiers. Despite orders from Napoleon not to damage the painting, it was found that the “Apostles” in the painting were smeared with clay.
(6) The painting has survived disaster miraculously
24 years later after completion, the painting was damaged by a flood that covered the whole wall. During World War II, the complete monastery was destroyed by a bombing by the Allies. After the war, the Monastery was reconstructed around the painting, where it lies until this day.
(7) The painting was almost never completed
It is believed that Da Vinci was slow, eccentric, and largely distracted as an artist. He was also known as a procrastinator and an artist of unfinished works. That being said, it is generally believed that the painting took three years to complete, from the year 1495 to the year 1498.
(8) The painting is huge
The original mural hangs on a wall in the refectory in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Italy. It is 15 feet tall and 29 feet wide, which is an area encompassing almost 40 square metres.
(9) The painting captures a specific moment
Da Vinci seems to capture the moment at dinner after the proclamation of Jesus that one of his disciples would betray him. All disciples in the painting seem to be engaged in conversations to the proclamation.
(10) Da Vinci himself is present at the table
Image Source: BBC
This fact can hardly be proven; however, some reputed art historians are of the opinion that St James the Lesser, who is the 2nd disciple from the left, is a self-portrait.
These were 10 mindboggling facts about Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper.