LEONARDO da Vinci
(b. 1452, Vinci, d. 1519, Cloux, near Amboise)
The Last Supper1498
Mixed technique, 460 x 880 cm
Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
The photo was taken after the recent restoration.
There are differing opinions amongst art researchers as to which episode from the Gospels is depicted in the Last Supper. Some consider it to portray the moment at which Jesus has announced the presence of a traitor and the apostles are all reacting with astonishment, others feel that it also represents the introduction of the celebration of the Eucharist by Jesus, who is pointing to the bread and wine with his hands. And yet others feel it depicts the moment when Judas, by reaching for the bread at the same moment as Jesus as related in the Gospel of St Luke (22:21), reveals himself to be the traitor. In the end, none of the interpretations is convincing.
Leonardo's Last Supper is not a depiction of a simple or sequential action, but interweaves the individual events narrated in the Gospels, from the announcement of the presence of a traitor to the introduction of the Eucharist, to such an extent that the moment depicted is a meeting of the two events. As a result, the disciples' reactions relate both to the past and subsequent events. At the same time, however, the introduction of the Eucharist clearly remains the central event.
The Apostles from left to right: Bartholomew, James the Less, Andrew, Judas, Peter, John, Christ, Thomas, James the Greater, Philip, Matthew, Thaddeus, Simon.