Visiting Leonardo’s The Last Supper

One of the most famous paintings in the World, Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper was once known for its state of disrepair as much as it was know for its astounding beauty and artistic ability. Restoring the masterpiece took decades, and during that time it was closed to the public, but only a short time ago, the restoration was completed and the painting is now open for viewing.

There is much more to the depiction of the The Last Supper than Jesus and his disciples sitting down to the final meal. In fact, its placement alone is worthy of thoughtful admiration. The fresco was done in the refectory of the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. In modern terms, this would be the dining hall where monks and nuns took their meals. When the painting was commissioned in 1495, it was placed on the wall of the refectory to give the nuns and monks a stirring image to contemplate during meals as they were to speak to each other as little as possible.

Unfortunately, the fates were not on the side of the beautiful painting. Leonardo was well known for his study of anatomy and skill in the arts, but not for his great fresco technique. Over the years the painting cracks and pieces of it even fell to the floor. When the church needed an extra door, it was cut through the painting as well. The refectory was bombed during World War II and was even used as a stable during its long history. All in all, the future looked bleak for such a meaningful work of art.

But full restorations of this treasure began and took twenty years to complete. When completed, there is little of the original paint from Leonardo still present in the painting itself, but his artistic expression remains in the faces depicted in the scene.

The Last Supper shows a moment after Jesus reveals there is a traitor among the disciples, but before he tells them who it is. Each face in the picture depicts strong emotion except Jesus who is perfectly calm. Other expressions range from shock and disbelief to outrage. The faces strongly suggest Leonardo’s skill in anatomy as well as art.

Tickets to view the masterpiece are only available well in advance and can be sold out months ahead of time. Only twenty guests can view the painting at a time for only fifteen minutes. The Last Supper is complicated to view, but very much worth the effort.