The Last Supper Painting by Leonardo da Vinci | Analysis
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Through out history there have been many great artists who have made an impression on society as we see it today. Such as Michael Angelo, Raphael, Donatello and Leonardo Davinci. (now you know where the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles got their names). These men took the chance and did what man had never done or tried, they took art to a whole new level. They did this by pushing limitations and elevated man through their paintings, drawings or sculptures. Many of men have tried to reproduce these arts, but couldn't get them as perfect as the artist themselves. The one man and his works we will be discussing in this paper is Leonardo Davinci, The Last Supper, his sketches, Humanism and how he has had an impact on society.
Life beginnings of Davinci
Davinci's life began when he was born out of wedlock on April 15, 1452 to the parents of Piero Davinci who was a Notary and to a peasant woman named Caterina in a small town called Vinci. His father raised him most of his life until later on when he married. Between his father and biological mother they had a total of 17 children. Because Leonardo was born out of wedlock he was not worthy of any formal education so he couldn't become a notary like his father, or become a physician or any other noble profession of that time and period.
Now Davinci's father saw that he had talent at 16 years old and sent him to be an apprentice to a Florentine artist named Andrea Verrochio. This is where Davinci began his career as an artist. As Verrochio taught him many skills Davinci talents emerged as an artist and a sculptor. While still a student of Verrochio's Leonardo was accepted into the painters Guild of Florence. In 1475 Verrochio and his student Leonardo Davinci together painted the Baptism of Christ. After the painting Verrocchio realized Davinci was a better painter than him and that is when he decided to put up his paint brushes for good and retired.
Now Davinci was known to be a left handed and dyslexic as well as being a procrastinating perfectionist who left many of his paintings unfinished and even destroyed some.
The mystery will go unsolved to as why Davinci left a lot of his work unfinished. Maybe it was because he was bored or went on to other projects. We also will never know why he destroyed a lot of his own work, was it because it wasn't as perfect as he wanted it to be. No one will ever know the answer, but Davinci himself. However Davinci did finish his first solo painting in 1478 of the Madonna and Child. In 1481 he started painting the Adoration of Magi but never finished. But in this painting he did reveal what type of technique he used by painting with a dark surface first than adding elements of light.
Now in 1482 Leonardo entered the service of Duke of Milan. The seventeen years that he spent with the Duke, The Duke always kept him busy painting, designing weapons buildings and machinery. After the Duke was overthrown Davinci fled to Venice with his assistant and friend the mathematician Luca Pacioli where he became employed as a military architect and engineer, devising methods to defend the city from naval attack. In 1500 he returned to Florence where he created the cartoon of The Virgin and Child with St. John the Baptist.
1502 he entered the service of Cesare Borgia who was the son of Pope Alexander VI as military architect and engineer. Maps were rare and probably a new concept, but Leonardo created a map of Borgia's stronghold and the township. After seeing the designs and liking them Borgia made Leonardo his chief military engineer and architect. He was also know for creating a map while working on another project of constructing a dam that would lead from the sea to Florence and this would allow a supply of water to sustain the canal during all seasons.
Even though Leonardo suffered from paralysis of his right hand he still went on to draw and paint while teaching others how to paint and draw. Now it is said when Leonardo passed away on May 2, 1519 the king of France was there by his side cradling his head in his arms.
Leonarado Davinci: The original Renaissance man
When one thinks of a Renaissance man, what names would one think of? They may think of Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Michael Angelo, Christopher Columbus, William Shakespeare. Even though these men were very smart, well educated and well rounded for their time, the only man that is known to be the Original Renaissance man is Leonardo Davinci., everything you could vision, do, or invent he had already done, vision or invented.
Davinci had many talents; he was a sculptor even though none of his sculptures survived. He was also a artist, an anatomist, a biologist, a botanist, an engineer, an inventor, a meteorologist, a musician, a physicist and a writer. He was known to become a master in every field that he studied. Like Albert Einstein he was a genius well ahead of his time by hundreds of years. If one were to define the meaning of Renaissance man that definition would be Leonardo Davinci.
Davinci's inventions and the modern world
Davinci kept his writings, and drawings that pertained to art, science and philosophy in notebooks which contained about 13,000 pages through out the course of his lifetime. Davinci's sketches have helped science in many ways. Such as his in-depth drawings of the human anatomy. These sketches have assisted doctors to diagnose diseases and illness in people, and because these sketches have been in great detail they have enable surgeons to perform better during surgery. If it wasn't for Leonardo Davinci going into the morgue at night and stealing bodies, to do autopsies then studying the human body, who knows we might not have any sketches that is so elaborate of the bone and muscle structure, along with the reproductive system as we know it today. His excellent description of the human body were well drawn and easy to understand in his notebooks.
In 1505 400 years before the Wright brothers launched their plane the Kitty Hawk, Davinci had already designed a flying machine. Even though it was just an idea and remained that way, he gave man wings and left them with an ego. This idea was considered to be part of a new vision of man as and as a co-creator, almost equal to God.
The Famous Last Supper
The Last Supper and Humanism
Now while Davinci still was serving for the Duke of Milan he was commissioned to paint The Last Supper. Davinci knowing how important this was, he had to decide the location of where the painting would be painted. After great though he decided the Last Supper should be painted on the dinning room wall of the monastery were the monks sat down to eat dinner, located in Santa Maria Delle Grazi. The reasoning behind this was every time the monks would sit down to dinner it would be like sitting down with Jesus and his disciples for their last meal. Therefore Davinci knew that when the Last Supper was painted before, the painters always focused on the breaking of the bread, not on the moment Jesus told the apostles that one would betray him. So Leonardo set out to do just that. First he wanted to bring realism to the Mural, and he actually wanted to show the dramatic moment when Jesus told his closest friends (disciples) that one of them would betray him. After the announcement there is such uproar amongst all the disciples, which at this time Leonardo captures, showing each of their reactions?
Now the first step was to duplicate everything in the dinning room from the table at which Jesus and his apostles sat at, to the dinning hall windows, and to the illuminated wall that appears to be lit by the window of the room.
The Second was to start painting, Leonardo look at how other artist isolated Judas, and putting him on one side of the table as if he was being punished. Leonardo seats him with the others, who are arranged in four groups of three around Jesus. (They say three is considered to be a holy number, such as the Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.) The other disciples arguing and looking at one another except the one on the right hand of Jesus who is Judas trying to find out who will betray him. But what Leonardo does he puts shadows around the guilty one. And the silence of Judas and his clutched hands had given him away.
Now it is said the Leonardo used real subjects for The Last supper, and that he painted them one by one, putting them in where they belonged., and the person who he choose to pose as Jesus was not affected by sin. When he went to paint Judas he searched every where, and couldn't find anyone that would fit the description he was looking for. Until one day he stumbled upon this man in prison who was sentence to die for the life of crime and murder, that fit his description of a man who had long shaggy hair and was dark skinned, his face that had deceit it in and someone would betray his best friend no matter what the cost. It is said that after Davinci had finished his perfect painting, he told the guard to take the man a way. But the man looked at Davinci before being taken away he asked him if he remembered him, and he said no. He then Looked up into the heavens and said : "Oh lord have I fallen so low", then turning his face to the painter he cried, "Leonardo Davinci, look at me again, for I am the same man you painted just seven years ago as the figure of Christ" (ANGELFAIRY.US, para. 6). We do know that this picture has a lot of human emotions, which would be the first of its kind. Also we do know during the Renaissance period artist did find ways of expressing themselves through their pieces of work, such as adding symbols that would convey someone's thoughts and opinions. Also Artist also started adding realistic features to their painting to them look more human. This is where the concept of Humanism came into place.
Philosophy of Humanism
Chirtianity views on the Last Supper
When The Last Supper is mentioned, what comes to mind? Is it the last meal that is offered to a death row inmate before he is put to death for the crimes he committed: Is it the last meal that we partake in before going to bed at night, it could be? But it actually is the last meal Jesus and his twelve disciples partook of the night before he was crutisfied. Now, no one knows what was exactly eaten at this meal, but we do know according to the Bible there was bread and wine at the table.
Now Christians of all backgrounds of all religions believe The Last Supper was an important event, and no matter what name you may give it (sacrament, communion, eucharist) it has the same meaning each time they partake of it. They believe it is a quite time that is set aside to remember his death, and it should be always be done in a respectful manner to honor him and to thank him for giving his life for us on the cross. Christians also believe it should be a time when a person also reflects on his or her life.
No matter how many times commuion is taken the bread will always symbolize his body and the wine will also symbolizes his blood. that's why he said to "Take this bread and eat in remembrance of me for this is my body, then he took the wine and said drink for this my blood that I will shed for you do drink in remembrance of me.
Christians believe when he partook in the last supper, he was trying to tell them that we were going to be persecuted for what we believe, and we may even reject him so no harm comes to them.
How the Last Supper Influenced Contemporary Society?
Davinci Code and The Last Supper
"Art is about suggestions, not answers. When you have an answer, if your're not like most people, you tend to stop looking. With Great art, you never stop looking." (Art History for Dummies, 2007, p.164).
Since Leonardo's Davinci's death there has been many theories about his paintings, some are lead to believe that there may be hidden images in them. But not until recently when Dan Brown's book and the movie the The Davinci Code has there been such conterversy. He posed a lot of questions such as if what if's such as What if Jesus was married, had a child with Mary Magdalene? Was he member of a secret society or the Priory of Sion. Mr. Brown has even gone as far as saying instead of John in the picture that the woman sitting next to Christ is Mary Magdalene.
Many Catholics and Christians around the world have been intrigued in Mr Brown's thoughts and that's why they go on to read the book and watch the movie. Is it truth or is it fiction. It is just what another man or men are led to believe and the mysteries that lie beyond Davinc's paintings. Mr. Brown at least puts the questions out there along with other people who have gone on to do the research for themselves. It is not to question the Bible, but about what if"s. One just has to examine The Last Supper for themselves to see if these conspircy's are true and it is up to them to believe or not.
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