As you all know Easter is approaching, so here is another post chronicling Jesus’ journey to the cross. I know not all of you believe in Christ, but as a mentioned earlier not only am I a Christian but I like to celebrate holidays. So to those of you who don’t mind reading this, enjoy!
I chose Leonardo da Vinci’s piece because it is my favorite and the most famous. Some interesting things about it is that Leonardo was the first to ever put Judas on the inside group instead of stuck on the outside. The Last Supper pictures usually looked like this, with Judas all on his own and easy to spot right away. That is why Leonardo has Judas holding the bag of silver, he wanted to be sure that people would know who he was.
Leonardo also wanted this image to be very natural and expressive, following in the tradition of the time. Instead of stoic disciples, we have each one reacting in their own way, shedding light on each one’s individual personality.
Leonardo put the vantage point right behind Christ’s head in front of the window which makes him the center and reminds all that he is the son of God. He also has Christ’s hand in one of the standard poses shown in the High Renaissance; one hand palm up and the other one pam down. This alludes to the fact that when you die Christ will judge you whether or not you will be going up to heaven or sent to hell. It is put in to remind people to always be thinking of the future.
Leonardo also uses three’s a lot. Three is a holy number, as it alludes to the trinity, and an important geometric number, the triangle. Jesus himself is a triangle, bringing to mind the trinity, but the apostles are all in groups of three as well. On the far left of Jesus is Bartholomew (also known as Nathaniel), James, son of Alphaeus and Andrew. Next to them is Judas Iscariot, Peter and John the Beloved. On the right of Jesus is Thomas, James the Greater and Philip. On the far right are Matthew, Jude Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot.
This was put in the refectory of a monastery so the table is a reflection of the area. If this was done in accordance to biblical times, Jesus and the 12 apostles would be sitting on the floor instead of being seated at the table. In creating this Leonardo combined fresco with tempera paint, causing it not to hold very well. In fact, very soon after he completed it it started to fall apart. It is continuously being restored. One of the great works that we hope will continued to be saved.
“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover.When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve.”–Mark 14: 12-17
“Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ Jesus answered, ‘It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.’ Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out.”–John 13: 21-30
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”–Matt 26: 26-29
“Do this in remembrance of me.”–Luke 22:19
For more Last Supper posts, go to Do This in Remembrance of Me
For more Easter posts, go to Palm Sunday