The Last Supper: Why the Prediction of Betrayal? Essay example

The Last Supper was painted circa 1495 by Leonardo Da Vinci, and commissioned under Ludovico Sforza for the Dominicans of Santa Maria delle Grazie. From the beginning, the painting was considered a masterpiece and therefore, Leonardo was praised time and again for the technical aspects of his masterpiece. Vasari, the first man to write a book of artists’ biographies, exclaimed, “a Last Supper, a most beautiful and marvelous thing; and to the heads of the Apostles he gave such majesty and beauty, that he left the head of Christ unfinished, not believing that he was able to give it that divine air which is essential to the image of Christ.” Vasari, like most was entranced by the beauty of Leonardo’s technique. Even today, most of the books devoted to the Last Supper focus mainly on its technical aspects.

The Last Supper is one of the most sacred events of Christian History. According to the bible, it is the last gathering that Christ and his apostles shared before he was crucified. Most depictions of this time period focused on the moment of the beginning of the Eucharist; the moment when Jesus gives up his body and blood to the apostles and mankind. However, Da Vinci’s Last Supper was the first to portray the moment right after Jesus predicts that one of his apostles will betray him. Why the moment of betrayal? Why was this one different? In order to begin to answer this question, one must first look at three subjects; the Dominicans of Santa Maria delle Grazie and the Sforza family; their involvement with the Dominicans and the story of Judas’ betrayal and how it is portrayed in the painting. These subjects may hold the keys to answering the question; why did Leonardo Da Vinci decide to stray from the normal depictions of the …

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…nturies ago, it is extremely difficult to understand the meaning and purpose behind the Last Supper. It is quite possible that this question will remain unanswered. A better question to ask is why has no one attempted to answer this question before? An artist completely abandons the normal standard of depictions of the last supper (portraying the moment in which Christ gives his body and blood up for the salvation of mankind), chooses an extremely different moment at the Last Supper as the focus of his piece and no one attempts to explain why? Perhaps it was because everyone was so enthralled with the physical aspects of the painting, its technical beauty and therefore failed to ponder the theological meanings behind the painting. Whatever the reason, it is an important key that must be found if one ever wishes to fully understand the meaning behind the Last Supper.


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