Frescoes Leonardo Da Vinci

The setting and the figure of Christ

Inside the perspective box of the room, illuminated by three windows on the back and with the frontal lighting from the left that corresponded to the ancient royal window of the refectory, Leonardo set the long dinner table in the foreground, with the isolated figure of Christ in the center , with an almost pyramidal shape for outstretched arms. He has his head bowed, his eyes half closed and his mouth slightly set aside, as if he had just finished uttering the fateful sentence.

Perspective and compositional lines of the Last Supper.

With his gesture of resignation, Jesus constitutes the central axis of the compositional scene: not only of the architectural lines (evident in the escape of dark squares on the sides, perhaps tapestries), but also of the gestures and lines of force of the apostles. Every detail is taken care of with extreme precision and the dishes and dishes on the table combine to balance the composition.

From a geometric point of view, the environment, although simple, is calibrated. Through elementary perspective expedients (the squaring of the floor, the coffered ceiling, the tapestries hanging on the walls, the three windows in the background and the position of the table) we obtain the effect of breaking through the wall on which the painting is located, such as to show it as an environment in the refectory itself, a sort of refined trompe l'oeil. The light comes from the left, and in fact the only windows that illuminate the room open on that side. The illusory light coming from the background, on the other hand, gives Christ a supernatural isolation and at the same time determines a 'backlight' effect.

According to a recent study, the landscape that can be glimpsed from the windows could be a very specific place, belonging to the territory of the upper Lario.

The apostles

Around Christ the apostles are arranged in four groups of three, different, but symmetrically balanced. The resulting effect is that of successive waves that spread out from the figure of Christ, like an echo of his words that moves away, generating stronger and more expressive moods in the nearby apostles, more moderate and incredulous in those at the ends. Every single psychological condition is deepened, with its peculiar external manifestations (the "motions of the soul"), without however ever compromising the unitary perception of the whole.

Pietro (fourth from left) holds the knife with his right hand, as in many other Renaissance depictions of the Last Supper, and, bending impetuously forward, shakes John with his left, asking him "Say, who is this to whom you are referring? " (Jn 13:24). Judas, in front of him, squeezes the bag with the money ("Judas holding the chest" we read in Jn 13:29), backs off with a guilty air and in the agitation overturns the salt shaker. On the far right of the table, from left to right, Matteo, Giuda Taddeo and Simone express their bewilderment and their incredulity with excited gestures. Giacomo the Major (fifth from right) opens his arms wide in amazement; close to him Philip brings his hands to his chest, protesting his devotion and his innocence.

The probability that certain details of the composition may have been suggested by the Dominicans (perhaps by the prior Vincenzo Bandello himself) is given by the fact that this religious order attached great importance to the idea of ​​free will: man would not be predestined for good or evil. but he can choose between the two possibilities. In fact, in Leonardo's painting Judas is depicted in a different way from the great majority of the last dinners of the time, where he can be seen alone, on this side of the table. Leonardo instead depicts Judas together with the other apostles, and so did the Dominican Beato Angelico, in the Last Supper of the Cabinet of the Argenti exhibited at the Museum of San Marco in Florence, leaving him the halo like the others. Another evident difference between Leonardo's work and almost all the last previous dinners is the fact that John is not lying in the lap or on the breast of Jesus (Jn. 13:25) although he is separated from him, in the act of listening to the Peter asks, thus leaving Jesus alone in the center of the scene.

That the scene depicted by Leonardo derives from the fourth Gospel can be guessed, as well as from the "dialogue" between Peter and John, from the lack of the chalice on the table. Unlike the other three, called synoptic gospels, the fourth does not describe the scene that is remembered during Mass at the moment of consecration: "Then he took the chalice and, after giving thanks, he gave it to them, saying: it is my blood of the covenant, shed for many, for the forgiveness of sins "(Matthew 26:27). John, after the announcement of the betrayal, writes like this: "I give you a new commandment: love one another; as I have loved you, so you also love one another" (Jn 13:34) .

The lunettes

Above the Last Supper is tin addition to an antique-style ribbed frame, there are three lunettes, largely autographed. They contain Sforza coats of arms within garlands of fruit, flowers and leaves, and inscriptions on a red background; the central lunette in particular, larger than the lateral ones, is in a good state of conservation, with a precise description of the botanical species. In this it was discovered, thanks to a digital restoration of the painting, carried out by the Leonardo research center, also on the basis of the discovery of some unpublished sketches of the work, what is believed to be the dragon symbol of the noble family, the famous Biscione. According to Mario Taddei, curator of the project, on the basis of the discovery of the preparatory drawing that depicts it, it could instead be interpreted as a snake crawling upwards as if to leave the painting. A snake that is suspended exactly above the head of the Jesus.

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