The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
What Does The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci Depict?
‘The Last Supper’ of Leonardo da Vinci is considered to be undoubtedly a masterpiece. Debates have ensued, though, concerning the interpretation of this piece of art. Some even claim that Leonardo da Vinci tried to transfer a secret message to us through it. What is portrayed in this painting that has attracted and enchanted such a great amount of viewers?
The painting depicts a supper of twelve disciples of Jesus Christ and Christ himself before the prophet is betrayed (Essak, 2013). Jesus Christ gathers all together in order to eat and drink at a table, which is not so big and where the food itself is plain. This humble atmosphere allows the viewers to focus more on the disciples and Christ. In addition to this, Christ tells the assembly that one person who is present in that supper will betray him. The painting actually shows the first moment after this statement and the reactions of the disciples to this speech (Saunders, 2011). Leonardo da Vinci artfully depicts shock, surprise and other various human emotions in his painting. Although every person in the painting possesses unique features, I believe ”The Last Supper’ can be divided into four symmetrical groups full of life and motion (Essak, 2013). The group from the left side of Christ reacts impulsively and is united by one and the same will. One disciple has even stood up and another has his finger raised. The group that is on right-hand side is characterized by greater reserve. There is a huge distance between them and Jesus Christ. Judah who can be found among these disciples holding a pouch, perhaps with silver.
His dark and harsh appearance contrasts magnificently with the innocent and light figure of John. Some scientists claim that this is not actually John, but Mary Magdalene, because his face is feminine and gentle (Welborn, 2013). In thinking critically, this version is hardly believable, as Christ gathered twelve disciples, not eleven. Otherwise the symbolism of ‘The Last Supper’ does not make any sense. Between Judah and John, the head of Peter can be seen and moreover, he holds a knife in his arm as if he would like to protect Jesus. From his right-hand side, another group of disciples is portrayed. They are turned in profile and it looks like they are astonished by the news that was introduced. From the opposite side, we may see Matthew who is asking the same question to the other men trying to find the clear explanation of what is happening at that particular moment.
Frankly speaking, while searching for a secret code of Leonardo da Vinci in his painting ‘the Last Supper’, one may lose the real visible goal of the picture. It brilliantly portrays the discrepancy between the conciliation of Christ with his future, his reserve, calm and absolutely different emotional states and unique reactions of his disciples to the piece of news that he will be betrayed. The painting has vague aspects about it and perhaps hidden symbols, but this is not the reason why this painting attracts millions of people and involves them into the researches and deep investigation of every centimeter of this masterpiece.
List of References
1. Esaak Shelley. Leonardo da Vinci – The Last Supper. Ten Common Questions About the Painting Web. 13 May 2013 <http://arthistory.about.com/cs/leonardo/a/last_supper.htm>
2. Ghare Madhavi. Leonardo da Vinci – The Last Supper Painting. Web. 14 May 2013 <http://www.buzzle.com/articles/leonardo-da-vinci-last-supper-painting.html>
3. Saunders Frances Stonor. Leonardo da Vinci: The Myth and the Man. The Guardian, 21 Oct. 2011. Web. 13 May 2013 <http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/oct/21/leonardo-da-vinci-painter-milan>
4. Welborn Amy. The Da Vinci Code: The Facts Behind the Fiction. May 2004. Web. 14 May 2013 <http://catholiceducation.org/articles/facts/fm0035.html>