“The Last Supper” is a painting created by Leonardo da Vinci in the late 15th century. This painting was requested and commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza for the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan between 1495 to 1498. This painting was created for the monks to sit and eat quietly while still being able to look up and admire and reflect Leonardo’s Last Supper.
Instead of painting in fresco, Leonardo decided to try out an experimental technique by painting directly on a dry intonaco with oil and tempera. Dry intonaco is a thin layer of smooth plaster.
This painting depicts the final meal that Jesus has with his disciples before the Roman authorities arrest him. In this painting, we see Jesus and his disciples seated at a long table as if they are parallel to the picture plane. This painting tells the story of the disciples reaction when Jesus tells them that one of them has betrayed him. The reaction of the disciples shows how shocked they are to hear Jesus say such a thing when they are some of his closest followers. The disciples can be seen talking amongst each other trying to figure out who has betrayed Jesus. Leonardo cleverly places Judas hidden in the shadows holding onto a bag full of money that was given to him by the Romans. Leonardo was very clever when painting the Last Supper because it could also be perceived as the disciples reacting to Jesus saying “Take the bread, for this is my body; and take the wine, for this is my blood.” For anyone admiring the painting would know that these are not thirteen ordinary people eating dinner together, but a very important moment of it being Jesus’s last supper without any obvious signs such as a halo around Jesus’s head.
Leonardo’s depiction of Jesus and his disciples shows how well geometry and mathematics are involved in painting this piece. Analyzing the painting, we can see that Jesus’s body positioning is almost as if it’s an equilateral triangle between his head and his hands. Furthermore, instead of painting divine symbols such as a halo around Jesus’s head, the window behind him that frames around his head can be a metaphorical halo to show people that he is truly divine even without painting a halo. Likewise, Leonardo’s attention to detail with respect to math and geometry comes into play when Jesus and all of his disciples’ eyes are almost lined up horizontally. Also, in Leonardo’s painting, he has also paired Jesus’s disciples up into groups of three. The three apostles to his right are Judas, Saint Peter and Saint John. Judas is portrayed as someone facing away from Jesus in the shadows with a bag full of money in his hand. This symbolizes and shows that Judas is the betrayer. Saint Peter on the other hand is seen to be running towards Jesus with a knife. Saint Peter is Jesus’s protector and by analyzing the painting, it can be seen that after hearing the news of someone at that table that will betray him, he rushes in to see if Jesus knows who will betray him. Saint John is the only one who have come to terms with what Jesus has said.