Free Leonardo DA Vinci’s Last Supper Essay Sample

Type of paper: Essay

Topic: Supper, Painting, Jesus Christ, Leonardo DA Vinci, Religion, Christians, Literature, Andy Warhol

Pages: 6

Words: 1650

Published: 2020/12/13

Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper

This paper aims to explore on one of the most famous paintings in religion; which is the Last Supper that was crafted by one of the greatest artists in history: Leonardo da Vinci. This painting will be examined by studying the painting’s aspects in order to reveal the painting’s religious implications and importance. To start with, it would be important to look in the context of the famous painting. The Biblical event of the Last Supper, as narrated in all four gospels is one of the most famous and referenced moments in all of the Christian religion. According to Sundt, the event took place on a Maundy Thursday, that was noted as the night before Jesus was subjected to be crucified.1 This fact, therefore, tells us Jesus’ final night as a man in Earth of blood and flesh. During this gathering, several marks happen that will be soon immortalized into the Christian practice. First Jesus blesses the wine and the cup during the partaking of the Eucharist. Then, Jesus will soon state that one of his Apostles will betray him and will give a final sermon.1
Because of the impact of this event, several artists have soon created their visual depiction of this dinner. However, the most popular artist who made his version of the Last Supper is Leonardo da Vinci. The painting stands 15ft x 29 ft that were formerly known as the mural: Il Cenaculo. Esthetically, Leonardo created the painting using unassuming tones of color. If it will be looked at closely, most of the figures in the painting wore blue mantles and red robes or the other way around (Müntz 2011, 49). Leonardo’s the Last Supper as written by Harris was ordered by the Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza. 3 It was created between the years of 1495 and
1498. The painting was originally situated inside a church’s main building that was soon

Catherine Sundt, “Religion and Power: The Appropriation of Da Vinci’s Last Supper in Viridiana and L’Ultima Cena”

Romance Notes 49(2009): 71.

Eugene Muntz, Leonardo da Vinci (New York : Parkstone International, 2011), 49.

John Harris, “The last supper (dove): Andy Warhol” JAMA Psychiatry 71 (2014):
remodeled to create a court chapel for the Sforza family. The building was also commissioned to become a burial place for the Duke of Milan’s family, and the mural of the Last Supper was the centerpiece. Although the building had other paintings, which used the fresco style of painting, Leonardo chose to use the al secco style, a method by which he was used to performing. To differentiate, the fresco style consisted of colors that were used for wet plaster and al secco, on the other hand, has the pigment that is mixed with tempera and oil then applied to dry stucco. Aside from the fact that the al secco was a familiar method for Da Vinci, the al secco method has allowed him to work more slowly in order to create colors that are alive and precise. He also wanted to work gradually to reflect more on the current progress and to make further corrections.3 It is, however, rather unfortunate that the bond of the paint to the building stucco was quite unstable, so the mural had depreciated over the years (Harris 2014, 350).
The Last Supper’s main objective was to tell a Biblical story found in the four Gospels. Martin Leonardo Kemp stated that it was something that is worthy to be coined an istoria. The word means that it is a manipulated and an important explanation of a substantial subject.4 Studying the Last Supper as the subject matter, it is rather noticeable that there is an organized flow to reveal the events of the Supper. It can be observed clearly that there is an outward impact of the reasons of movement.4 Each movement that a disciple makes creates a physical manifestation of their inner thoughts that is therefore turned into a movement. As an example, the group found on the left of Christ reveals great surprise towards Peter’s movement as he pushes everyone and uses his elbows to get to Christ in order to relay a message.4 This commotion is, on the other hand, prudently shifted to the curves of the young John
3. John Harris, “The last supper (dove): Andy Warhol” JAMA Psychiatry 71 (2014).
4. Martin Leonardo Kemp, Leonardo Da Vinci : The Marvellous Works of Nature and Man, (Oxford : Oxford University Press, 2006), 175
tendons were painted like bowstrings. With the ability to identify Judas in a physiological sense, this has allowed Leonardo Da Vinci to make Judas unique from all the disciples gathered around Christ. The succeeding paragraphs will then discuss the religious connotation of the painting.
It is rather an important aspect to note that since it was likened to the story of the Last Supper, Leonardo has portrayed this painting through different emotions. It is quite evident that if an observer will look at a painting, Upon Jesus’ announcement of betrayal by one of his apostles, the apostles were evidently sporting different reactions. Some of them were puzzled, shocked, terrified, bemused, despairing or angry. If it is observed at closely, Jesus is noticeably seated in the middle of the table and is painted as bigger than His apostles who were symmetrically arranged in four groups containing three apostles. The most noticeable reaction depicted in the painting is quite evident in John’s face who was, in the painting seated adjacent towards Jesus.3 Since it has a close biblical reference, the painting also shows Peter who then moves in between Judas and John to whisper to Jesus and say “Who is it of whom he speaks?” (Harris 2014, 350). The Last Supper is seen to have predicted a narrative of events in the Bible. Leonardo has advanced in such a way that he was able to incorporate some of the events that occurred after the Last Supper has ended.
The scenario involving Peter covers one of the greatest religious implications shown in the painting. According to Harris, Peter’s movement has caused Judas to move back and, unfortunately, stumble on some salt on the table as he grips his money in his pouch tightly onto his chest. To elucidate the betrayal further, the painting exposes the apostle Peter, who holds a
3. John Harris, “The last supper (dove): Andy Warhol” JAMA Psychiatry 71 (2014).
knife that figures ahead of time his action of removing a soldier’s ear. his painting has fluidly revealed Leonardo’s genius of moving across the moments of before Christ’s crucifixion. Through this image, Leonardo has indicated clearly the betrayal of Judas through the spilled salt.
Da Vinci now attempts to shift the image to the Eucharist that is evidently held by Jesus. Shift in the picture aims to demonstrate the sacramental meaning that was elucidated in the Bible. According to Harris, the movement of Jesus’ hands is reflected by that of Judas's hands as both of them reaches towards the same piece of food.3 This part is considered as a sacramental context as Harris states that the Bible has narrated that Jesus identifies with Judas when he says “He who dips his hands with me in the dish shall deceive me.”3 This part, therefore, is the part of the iconic depiction of Jesus’ prediction of his betrayal. While this is happening, on the other hand, his right hand is simultaneously reaching towards His glass of wine that He will then later raise above in the Eucharist. His left hand is seen open that connotes a welcoming gesture. Through this, He gradually reaches for the bread that is considered to be at present the bread of life for many Christians.3 Harris argues that as an individual enters the place where the painting is held, the first thing that grabs the individual’s attention is this welcoming gesture of Jesus. 3
This strong biblical reference is supported by Medzhibovskaya when the researcher states that the painting is fully based on the chronological events from the Last Supper as narrated by the Four Gospels.5 According to Medzhibovskaya, this event is most likely found in Luke 22, John 13, Matthew 26 and Mark 14.5 Medzhibovskaya states that the painting fully explains the two sides of Jesus that are: the earthly side that afflicts the disciples and the divine side that shows itself through His goals, His shape, and their faith.
3. John Harris, “The last supper (dove): Andy Warhol” JAMA Psychiatry 71 (2014).
5. Inessa Medzhibovskaya, “On Moral Movement and Moral Vision: The Last Supper in Russian Debates” Comparative Literature 56 (2004).
It is quite evident that a piece such as the Last Supper still emanates the people of this generation.5 Through works of art such as this, the people of the future generation will still be able to witness significant events in Religion as it is immortalized through art. A significant event such as the Last Supper truly is worthy of such an immortality especially now that such an event has caused debates and discussions among religions about its real implications.
Taking from Leonardo’s paintings, the heart of a Christian faith is revealed. From there we can assume that is that Jesus is true God from true God. Apart from its main point that the Last Supper is a picture portraying Jesus’ last meal with his apostles, it is also considered as the time where He first gave his presence to bread and wine. From that moment, he broke the bread and distributed the bread as His Flesh and the Wine as His Blood.5 From there we can take it into consideration that the event in itself is the portrayal of the transubstantiation or the Eucharistic Miracle. According to Ross King, the Last Supper is an amalgamated form of both the transubstantiation and the announcement of betrayal. Of course, the focus of the painting is quite evident that it is Jesus and his traitor Judas.5
Since the painting aims to tell the story of Jesus last supper with his apostles, an analysis of the painting from a close point most calls for two points of view (Budiselić 2012, 137-138). First from a Catholic perspective, there is the transubstantiation. The Lord’s Supper as the theology calls it is mainly described by Budiselic as Christ’s sacrifice on the cross is evident through the Eucharist and the Eucharistic prayer of the church is of a sacrificial nature. Through the Last Supper, a gathered community is portrayed.6 From the Lutheran part of the
5. Inessa Medzhibovskaya, “On Moral Movement and Moral Vision: The Last Supper in Russian Debates” Comparative Literature 56 (2004).
6. Ross King, Leonardo and the Last Supper (Bond Street Books, 2012)
7. Ervin Budiselic “The Power of the Table Revising the Theology, Form and Place of the Lord’s Supper
in the Worship of the Christian Church” Kairos: Evangelical Journal of Theology 6(2012)
interpretation, one may see the image as that depicting Consansubstiation that Christ’s body is ever present in the bread shared with the community.6 Such an image has therefore told a complete accumulation of events in the last days of Jesus Christ bringing together Religions from different views to create their interpretations. Since this is the case, although Da Vinci has created the purpose of telling a biblical story through his painting, the Last Supper has had a life of its own. The painting was encouraging audiences from different Religions to have a view of their own. This fact maybe the reason the image has stood the test of times no matter what the depreciation maybe. From the main event of the last supper to the image of Peter holding a knife, a lot of religious contexts can be viewed. As an example, Peter's image is interpreted to be an image of him that will soon cut a knife of a soldier shows how a picture can say a thousand words. Judging from the multiple interpretations that are born from the single image, it can be easily said that it is rather an important artifact for humanity.
Ross King, Leonardo and the Last Supper (Bond Street Books, 2012)


Budiselic, Ervin. "The Power of the Table Revising the Theology, Form and Place of the Lord’s Supper in the Worship of the Christian Church." Kairos: Evangelical Journal of Theology 6, no. 2 (2012): 135-161.
Harris, John. "The last supper (dove): Andy Warhol." JAMA Psychiatry 71, no. 4 (April 2014): 350-351. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2013.2723.
Kemp, Martin. Leonardo Da Vinci, the Marvellous Works of Nature and Man. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.
King, Ross. Leonardo and the Last Supper. Toronto, ON: Bond Street Books, 2012.
Medzhibovskaya, Inessa. "On Moral Movement and Moral Vision: The Last Supper in Russian Debates." Comparative Literature 56, no. 1 (2004): 23-53. doi:10.2307/4122285.
Müntz, Eugène. Leonardo Da Vinci. New York: Parkstone International, 2011.
Sundt, Catherine. "Religion and Power: The Appropriation of Da Vinci’s Last Supper in Viridiana and L’Ultima Cena." Romance Notes 49, no. 1 (2009): 71-79.

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