Decoding Da Vinci’s ‘Last Supper’: a study of the Institution of the Eternal

Undoubtedly the most controversial and timeless meal in history is the Last Supper. This significant event is best memorialized by Leonardo Da Vinci and his equally contentious painting. Born in 1452, Leonardo da Vinci (literally of Vinci, a region in Florence) had an uninhibited search for knowledge. A multifaceted genius, his interest in architecture, engineering, sculpting, mathematics, science, anatomy, biology, astronomy etc won him the epithet ‘The Renaissance Man.

A narrative chronicled in all the four Gospels, Leonardo’s Last Supper paints the action of the mind and the soul. It was commissioned by the Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan in 1495 for the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The sacramental iconography was meant to create an illusionary extension which transported the dining friars to the ‘upper room.’

The arena is a rectangular room with coffers on the ceiling and tapestries on the sides. It is flanked by windows at the end of the wall. The balance is set by the gigantic white table cloth. Christ occupies the center of the composition with two groups of three apostles each on his either side. The painting reflects the reaction of the apostles to the action of Christ when he revealed, ‘One of you is going to betray me’.

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