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Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supper

by Alexandra Tuschka

Who plays the leading role in this fresco is easy to recognize: Jesus is not only arranged on the central axis in a circle of his disciples, but at the same time depicted somewhat larger by da Vinci. The large, open window in the background and the vanishing lines that point to the center also direct the viewer's gaze to the Savior. That he in turn lowers his gaze has practical reasons. The patrons of the work - the monks of the Dominican monastery in Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan - were sitting at dinner in the reflectorium just below the fresco and were thus struck by Jesus' gaze.

While he is introverted in the center of the picture, the disciples are in great turmoil - one of them is supposed to have betrayed the Savior? The violent reactions of the men to this revelation differ. The right three are seen in a self-contained communication, mediated only by the pointing gesture of one man to the center of the picture. The other individuals point more directly in that direction through looks and gestures. Judas, the guilty one, is in the penumbra next to John and in front of Peter. Peter puts his face between the two; Judas can be recognized by the money bag in his hand. His face is the only one that turns into the picture background and away from the viewer. John, on the other hand, mirrors the Savior in appearance, direction of gaze and posture.

Da Vinci renounces many ancestral symbols of the Last Supper scene and created an unconventional and emotional representation of the subject.

Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supper

Fresco, 1495 - 1498, 460 x 879 cm, Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan


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