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The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

The subject of the Last Supper is probably one of the most depicted of all times. DaVinci’s was not the very first one but for sure he put his particular attitude in it. While the most of the paintings and frescos that portrayed these last moments of Christ’s life were concentrated on describing the moment in which Christ broke the bread, Leonardo decided to take the people’s attention a few minutes after that.

The Last Super by DaVinci allows the viewer to see what happened when Jesus announced the betrayal of Judas Iscariot:

“Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me—one who is eating with me.”

(Mark, 14 – 16)

This is what the twelve disciples heard that night and their astonishment is what Leonardo decided to paint. In the original painting, at the Santa Maria delle Grazie’s basilica in Milan, it is possible to recognize each single disciples by their hand gestures and their facial features. From left to right: Bartholomew, James, Andrew, Judas Iscariot, Peter, John, Jesus, Thomas, James the Greater, Phillip, Matthew, Thaddaeus Judas and Simon.

The decision to depict this particular moment along with the extremely relevant talent of Leonardo made this painting one of the most copied work of art of all time.  DaVinci’s assistant Giampietrino made a copy of the painting which is now at the Magdalene College in Oxford. The artist Marco d’Oggiono painted a copy of the DaVinci’s Last Supper  in 1520 and it is now at the Musee de la Reinassance a few miles north of Paris.

More recently this work of art has been the subject of a large number of copies starting from the Andy Warhol‘s version. Through its work Warhol decided to create a hybrid of the sacred and profane, high art and commercial design, which was the main aim of his entire artistic life. A few years after this version the photographer David LaChapelle took inspiration for his version of the Last Supper by the DaVinci’s one. He replaced the twelve disciples with twelve men  wearing contemporary clothes while Jesus is dressed has he used to. LaChapelle insisted on the theme of the Last Supper and dedicated his major efforts in exploring this subject. Starting from 2009 to 2012 he did a series of paintings which depicts the faces and hands of the twelve disciples. He acknowledges the role of the hand gestures in the original painting and gave to the world his version of it.

The last copy of the Leonardo’s masterpiece came out just a few months ago when the movie Inherent  Vice was released.  One of the posters that the production company decided to use to promote the movie was a copy of the Last Supper. The disciples in this case are replaced by the whole cast of the movie and instead of Jesus there’s the main character, Larry “Doc” Sportello played by Joaquin Phoenix. The whole cast around the table is exactly doing what the disciples are doing in the original artwork. They are in group of three as the disciples were and they are moving their hands as the  twelve were doing.

This version will not be the last for sure and we just have to wait to see how current and future artists will perceive and interpret this renaissance masterpiece.

The Last Supper‘s facts and figures:

  • Author: Leonardo da Vinci
  • Painted from 1494 to 1498
  • Sizes: 460×880 cm (180 in × 350 in)
  • Location: The Santa Maria delle Grazie Basilica, Milan (Italy)

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