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The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

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The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

The Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci (also known as the Cenacolo Vinciano) is one of the most famous paintings in the world. The original mural, created between 1495 and 1497, can still be seen in its first location, the wall of the dining room of the former convent of the Dominicans of Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Leonardo's Last Supper is an enormous 460-centimeter-high 880-wide painting, made with tempera and oil on a plaster preparation, instead of the common fresco technique.

The creation of the work

The religious order of the Dominicans allowed two of the great artists of the time to decorate their temple thanks to Ludovico Sforza the Moor (duke of Milan of the late fifteenth century) intended to turn it into the mausoleum of his family. Ludovico did not achieve his goal, as he lost power and died imprisoned.

For the creation of the work Leonardo carried out an exhaustive research creating many preparatory sketches. Those who saw him working claimed that his behavior was the most extravagant. Sometimes he started painting early and did not even stop to eat, while other days he just wandered around the city in search of faces that inspired him or spent several hours in awe, watching his creation.

A curious fact is that, after so much time of dedication to the work, Leonardo da Vinci did not charge a penny and did not even bother to do it.

The painting has suffered different misadventures with the passage of time; Being made on dry plaster, the work began to flake after its completion. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries failed attempts at restoration and conservation.

During the course of the war, Napoleon's troops used the wall to carry out firing practices, and in 1943 the bombardments succeeded in ripping the roof off the room, leaving the paint in the open for several years.

After years of intense restoration, Leonardo's Last Supper has recovered part of its original glow and can be contemplated by lucky tourists who are careful to book the visit in advance.

Although the last dinner has been a theme constantly approached by different artists, Leonardo decided to portray in a truly original way one of the most special moments of the dinner, just after Jesus announced that one of them was a traitor. The painting is able to capture the reactions of astonishment, amazement and stupefaction of the apostles.

Although in the sketches of Leonardo the apostles are clearly identified with his name, some of the figures are grounds for discrepancy. For example, because of the feminine aspect of the figure to the right of Jesus, it is said that it is not the apostle John, but Mary Magdalene.

This interpretation is also found in Dan Brown's mystery novel, The Da Vinci Code, which identifies the character of Jesus' right as Mary Magdalene and provides Leonardo's work with an esoteric meaning. In this novel was based the homonymous film released in 2006, directed by Ron Howard and carried out by Tom Hanks and Audrey Tautou.

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