The Basis for Da Vinci’s Last Supper

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Regardless of the reasons for painting it, The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci was a common theme among Renaissance painters. It was considered something of a challenge to the master artist to put together a properly crafted representation of the last meal of Christ. Much has been made of that final meal, not only in art, but in the basic Sacraments of most dominations of Christianity.

When did Jesus celebrate the last supper with his apostles?

The history of the Last Supper itself relates the final meal of Jesus with his twelve disciples, as described in the New Testament of the Christian Bible and though the exact day of the Last Supper is debated, most agree it was the day before Passover began. The location of the Last Supper of Jesus was in the Upper Room on Mount Zion, located near the Old City of Jerusalem’s walls. During the course of the last Supper, Jesus spoke to his disciples while taking the bread and the wine, “Do this in remembrance of Me”. For that reason, the Eucharist was born, a tradition designed to remember that final meal of Christ. The room itself is known traditionally as the Upper Room.

The location of the Upper Room has been derived from the gospels stating that Jesus had a pair of disciples go to the city and meet a man who would lead them to a house where the teacher had a room. The room in question is described as the upper room and they are to prepare the Passover while there.

Because of the Last Supper’s time period, the actual city it takes place in is not known and could be anywhere just outside of Jerusalem. The Last Supper was the source for many of the symbolic actions taken by Christians in churches around the world. Jesus takes and divides the bread among his disciples, saying a prayer over it. He then hands the bread to his disciples and says this is my body. Then he takes his cup of wine and after offering another prayer, passes the cup around and says this is my blood of the everlasting ‘covenant’, which is poured for many. He then makes the instruction to do this in the memory of me.

It was also during this meal that Jesus offered the revelation that one of his apostles would betray him. It was truly the last supper that the disciples would have with Jesus. They each in turn refuse this claim, reasserting their loyalty, but Jesus insists that one of the men present will betray him. In both the gospels of Mark and Luke, the betrayer is not singled out. However Matthew and John specifically single out Judas Iscariot as the betrayer.
After confirming that Peter would deny Christ three times, Jesus finishes the meal with his disciples and begins a sermon, traditionally known as the Farewell Discourse. This final speech to his disciples in considered one of the most important descriptions of Christianity by Christ in the gospels.

The importance of the event lives on today in the form of the Eucharist of the Roman Catholic Church and the “Inauguration of the New Covenant” by most Christians. As a prophecy related by Jeremiah, this covenant refers to the line in which Christ told his disciples to eat of his body and drink of his blood. Other groups see the Last Supper as a symbol of change to the Passover ceremony, replacing the traditional Jewish practice with the body and blood of Jesus Christ. Generally, each of the major branches of Christianity has its own slightly different interpretation of the Last Supper. However, in the end, this final act by Jesus with his disciples is considered one of the most important and inspirational scenes in the Bible and subsequently in all of Renaissance Art.

Motivation behind Leonardo Da Vinci’s Paintings

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Leonardo Da Vinci’s artistic style derived from a variety of different purposes and causes throughout his life. He left us only a small handful of paintings to his name, barely more than half a dozen, but he is still recognized as one of the preeminent artists of the Western World. This derives greatly from his ability to think on and produce solutions and methods for almost every problem he saw.

As for what makes his artistic output so engaging and influential despite his lack thereof, the answer largely lies in the work he did as a scientist and thinker outside of art. His fascination with the human body – its composition, form and function – is best represented in the Vitruvian Man, but goes well beyond that simple sketch. But, Leonardo’s fascination went much deeper and with that fascination came a deep understanding of the human form. The paintings of Leonardo Da Vinci are testament to that.

By understanding what it was that made the human body work, Leonardo da Vinci, with simple watercolor paints, was able to depict the absolutely subtlety that was the human form with ease, best seen in the careful placement and perspective play of the Mona Lisa. He developed a new take on perspective in his artwork that artists before him had not yet attempted. In the Mona Lisa, single point perspective was preeminent and in the Last Supper, the revised perspective, radiating from Christ, with Judas as a member of the disciples at the table has been well documented.

Many people have broken down Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings and work into three main arenas. The first of those is that of understanding the world in which he lived produced countless drawings and observations on the nature of the world, the human body and the natural world. The second is that of imagination, in which Leonardo applied his observations to the creation and imagination of new ideas such as the thousands of inventions found in his notes. The third was his theoretical phase, in which he tried to understand the greater basis of the world and how everything worked. This is where his obsession with mathematics derived from.

Da Vinci’s artistic technique was a combination of all of his interests into a single expression of his internal energies. Though a good deal of his work can be given over to the necessity of gaining commissions and making money to survive, Leonardo’s actual productions were the culmination of his entire life’s work. The geometrical beauty of his paintings resulted from his extreme interest in the topic and his human forms, so incredibly alive in their expressions were the result of his ability to understand and replicate the physical nature of things around him. For Leonardo de Vinci, pictures he created were infinitely more intricate than the words he used to describe them.

Many of Da Vinci’s paintings were of a religious nature and that was par for the day and age in which he lived. Similarly, many of the techniques witnessed in his work are most likely results of the preceding style of the day. The feminine appearance of John in the Last Supper or the superimposition of his own facial features onto the Mona Lisa – most likely because he had studied his own face – have given rise to many other theories about his inclinations because of the incredible detail that his studies lent to his work.

To say Leonardo Da Vinci invented light, shadow, foreshortening, and perspective on his own is giving one man too much credit. However, looking at the work of his contemporaries and predecessors, it can definitely be said that his attention to the detail and form of the world around him created the kind of intellect and depth needed by a single man to discover such techniques. His use of sfumato in the Mona Lisa is legendary as well as the development of single point perspective. His incredible mastery of triangulated geometry in so many of his paintings has been replicated for centuries and he was able to, more than anyone else, understand the necessity of proper ratios and perspective. Leonardo Da Vinci’s artwork and paintings are an example of what the renaissance was about, the combination of curiosity, intellect and absolute talent. Leonardo Da Vinci’s images live on today as a testimony to that.

Mona Lisa – Simple Commission, Self Portrait, or Greater Mystery?

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The Mona Lisa is more than a simple work of art. The rumors, mysteries, and intrigue that have clouded it since it was first painted have made into an icon of sorts. Whatever his true intentions were when he painted it, there are hundreds of legends for Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, meaning scholars will continue debating for centuries to come.

Mona Lisa Theories

There have been years of scholarly debate as to the meaning of the Mona Lisa and what Da Vinci was trying to do with his painting. The discovery that much of the work is balanced with carefully constructed dimensions has been augmented by the perfect Golden Rectangle in the Mona Lisa’s face and the one in her neck. A shape whose ratio of length to width is 1.6 is considered a Golden Rectangle. The ratio itself is considered a common natural occurrence and is believed to be one of the most pleasing shapes to the human eye, a good reason why artists attempt to utilize it in their artwork.

However, in Da Vinci’s work, the appearance of such shapes is so perfectly situated that many people have begun to see the painting as a palate of symbols and hidden meanings. The truth may never be discovered, though it is a sure thing that Da Vinci threw every trick he had as an artist into the painting, including the creation of new techniques that worked to draw that much more attention to the facial features. Blurring the edges of the Mona Lisa’s mouth with the Sfumato painting technique many attribute to him has also created the illusion of a smile that changes depending on where you look.

As to what Da Vinci was trying to hide with that smile or in those hands or background, few have been able to quite agree. Religious allusions have been blown out of proportion in literature and film and the possibility that her smile hides some hidden knowledge still persists in new books and theories almost annually.

Meaning of the Mona Lisa – The Visual Effects

What causes most people to so thoroughly disbelieve that the Mona Lisa is a simple portrait is the incredible detail and multilayered effects of the painting that even now are just being discovered. With every flicker of the eye and curl of the smile, the Mona Lisa mystery spreads to a new generation. Everyone knows of the effects of the smile, but the rest of the face and the background have similar effects, creating the appearance that the woman in the painting is more alive than simple paint ever could be.

For example, the horizon in the background appears at different levels on either side of her face. On the left side, it is lower, level with the eyes and creating a proper perspective in portrait. The right side however, is distorted. Because the left side is level, the view from the right should create a downward slope in the eyes from the left side. However, the painting slopes the opposite direction instead. This creates the subtle effect of rounding the face and making it feel more alive.

It also creates part of the effect seen in the eyes in which they appear to follow the observer, one of many stories of Mona Lisa observers take home with them from the Louvre. The human eye will take two separate images from different dimensional perspectives and combine them in certain instances – say when two differently angled X-rays are taken – and create the illusion of a three dimensional shape. By forcing the observer to compensate where they are looking and how they absorb the painting, Leonardo was able to create the illusion that the Mona Lisa’s eyes and face move.

This level of detail and carefully planned effect has caused many people to consider it highly unlikely that DaVinci was painting a simple portrait. Others still find it hard to believe that such effects were contrived on purpose, given the complexity of the portrait. The mysteries thus continue on, unanswered.

Stories behind the Mona Lisa’s Smile

The smile is easily the most discussed of the Mona Lisa’s many mysteries. The primary consensus is that it is simply a smile. However, from an artist with the talent of Da Vinci, it surely was being utilized to display some hidden meaning, right? That is the theory of many scholars, and their thoughts are often quite vivid.

One of the many theories is that Da Vinci might have painted his mother into the portrait, a theory Sigmund Freud was fond of that included the idea that DaVinci might have had a sexual attraction to his mother. Support for such a theory is minimal though many point to the self-portraits of Da Vinci which might actually be paintings of his mother and his historical relation to her.

As for the model herself, many have stated that Lisa Gherardini was pregnant when the painting was started, supported by the wearing of the veil over her hair and the black clothing. However, others still see the smile as ironic or sad and point to her unhappiness in her marriage. Many stories behind Mona Lisa are directly related to her identity as Gherardini and her social standing.

However, another theory is that Da Vinci might have actually used a model, in this case Lisa Gherardini, but did not paint her. It’s impossible to know whether the truth of the Mona Lisa lays in the likeness of that woman from Florence, but the evidence still points to her role in its painting. However, with so many other features in the painting it’s easy to theorize that the painting itself might have a completely different goal. He may have painted her likeness as the basis of the painting and used it as a chance to utilize any of a number of other techniques found.

Another Odd Theory – Mona Lisa Was a Man

One theory that has stuck for many years despite the lack of evidence and support is that the painting is actually a self-portrait of Da Vinci himself and that the painting is something of a joke, with DaVinci smirking at his audience. The support for this theory lies mostly in the similarity in the facial structure of Da Vinci’s self portraits with the Mona Lisa. Leonardo DaVinci as a woman is still a hard image to accept for many scholars though.

However, recent computer programs used to line up the sketch and painting have shown that the facial features are almost exact matches. Other scholars have noted though that the reason for this might be nothing more than the results of a single artist creating both works with the same techniques. The truth about Mona Lisa might lie in that she isn’t really a she, but the theory is very much in contention and there is no way to prove it one way or the other.

The Controversy of the Mona Lisa

The painting’s striking visual effects and incredibly robust history has long had a massive effect on those that view. Kings and Emperors have placed her in their bedrooms, a museum worker stole her, and other men have thrown rocks and acid at her. For the Mona Lisa, controversy lies in the painting’s source, its meaning, and its popularity. However, more than anything else, Leonardo Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa, no matter its meaning, is a result of the effect it has on its viewers. It’s incredibly hard to believe such an incredibly beautiful painting was born of a simple commission for a merchant’s wife.

Leonardo DaVinci’s Drawings

Leonardo Da Vinci is nearly as famous for many of his drawings and sketches as he was for his completed paintings. The difference of course is that his completed works are much less in number and often took him years to complete. His drawings, often found in his notebooks, ranged from simple sketches of arms for use in the Last Supper to fully featured sketches of paintings he would eventually alter or never painted at all.

Because he was such an incredibly apt draftsman, there are infinitely more journals of small sketches than completed works of art. In fact, it is often said that between Leonardo Da Vinci’s studies and paintings, he preferred his studies and painted rarely because of the demands of his other studies. Regardless, he was one of the greatest artists who ever lived and it shows even in the simplest of sketches.

The earliest Da Vinci illustration, dated back to 1473, is that of a Landscape of the Arno Valley. This sketch is an incredibly detailed depiction of the river, mountains, Montelupo Castle, and farmlands beyond the castle of the valley. From here, he would go on to sketch numerous other drafts.

The most famous of his many drawings is that of the Vitruvian Man. Kept now carefully guarded, the Vitruvian Man is one of the most famous single images in history and depicts the carefully crafted proportions of the ideal male body. Another incredibly famous and largely used drawing is that of the Head of an Angel, a sketch utilized for The Virgin of the Rocks.

The most impressive of Leonardo Da Vinci’s classical drawings would have to be the 160×100 cm rendering in black chalk of The Virgin and Child with St. Anne and St. John the Baptist. Using the same techniques developed in the Mona Lisa of sfumato and shadowy corners, the drawing was never made into a painting. The closest painting to this image is that of The Virgin and Child with St. Anne.

Leonardo’s drawings consist of numerous other creations, many of which include what were once considered caricatures. However, after close studies of the heads and bodies drawn, it has been largely agreed upon that they were real models with deformities of some kind. Additionally there are numerous sketches of a certain man whose “Grecian Profile” was greatly appreciated by Leonardo during his career. The sketches often show the young man dressed in fancy costumes, possibly related to the pageants for which Leonardo occasionally worked.

There are numerous sketches devoted solely to the effects and depiction of fabric as seen in draperies. Leonardo worked extensively to do so in his early career. There is one particular sketch that exists as an early example of likely hired work. Leonardo sketched the death from hanging of Giuliano Baroncelli. He political conspiracy aside, Leonardo wrote casually of the deceased clothing.

One final famous sketch that has been tied to Leonardo and mentioned repeatedly when studying his other works is the Leonardo Da Vinci self portrait. The portrait of Leonardo Da Vinci is a simple rendition of himself in the latter years of his life. However, the controversy surrounding that picture of Leonardo Da Vinci’s face arises from the direct connection between the facial structures of the self-portrait and the Mona Lisa and St. John the Baptist. It has lead to much speculation that the Mona Lisa might in fact be Da Vinci himself or another woman. However, as there are no other pictures of Leonardo Da Vinci, there is no real way to know.

History of Da Vinci’s The Last Supper Painting

Leonardo Da Vinci’s The Last Supper painting was originally painted starting in 1495 and was completed in 1498. The painting was commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza and his wife Beatrice d’Este to be painted as a mural in Milan. The painting itself is a recreation of The Last Supper as described in the Gospel of John regarding the final days of Jesus Christ. The scene Leonardo chooses is the moment at which Jesus reveals that one of his disciples will betray him.

Measuring 15 x 29 Feet, the mural is found in the back of the dining hall of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. During the time in which Leonardo painted it, depictions of the Last Supper were very common. It was a challenge to all good Renaissance painters to recreate the Last Supper. However, Leondardo’s depiction garnered so much fame and admiration because it was so much different than the others. Using the sense of realism he infused in many of his paintings, the Last Supper was a wonderful example of his talents. However, some criticism has been leveled due to the consequences of the painting technique Leonardo Da Vinci used in the Last Supper and its rapid deterioration.

The painting itself is rife with important references to his patron, including the Sforzas coats-of-arms, located along the top of the painting beneath the arches of the ceiling. There were also originally figures of the Sforza family added in tempera to the piece, though like the main painting itself, they have rapidly deteriorated over time.

By the time Leonardo’s biographer, Giorgio Vasari, was writing his histories, the painting was already largely ruined by decomposition. It’s believed that such flaking began to occur as early as 1517 and continued for centuries. In 1652 a large doorway was cut through the middle of the painting, which at this point was largely unrecognizable. It was bricked up in time, but an irregular shape in the painting can still be seen today. Numerous copies were made early in the life of the painting which depict different versions, though it is impossible to know what the mural really looked like any longer.

In 1768, a curtain was hung to protect the painting from further deterioration. Unfortunately, the curtain only served cause the build up of moisture. When the curtain was moved, it would flake even more paint free of the wall. Da Vinci’s Last Supper was first restored in 1726 by Michelangelo Bellotti. He filled in the missing sections with oils and varnished it over. Unfortunately this restoration barely lasted and in 1770 another painter tried again. Giuseppe Mazza removed all of Bellotti’s restoration work and almost completely repainted the mural. The public was unhappy with the repainting though and he was eventually halted.

Only 26 years later, in 1796 French Troops utilized the room for an armory all the while throwing rocks at it and purposely gouging out the eyes of the Apostles. Later, the room was used as a prison and further damage still could have been inflicted. Later, in 1821, Stefano Barezzi was hired to move what everyone thought was a fresco as such work was his specialty. However, because the painting was not a fresco, he damaged the painting severely. He attempted to reattach those sections he had destroyed with glue. Later, in 1901, Luigi Cavenaghi did a full study of the painting and the structure behind it before starting on a full cleaning. Later, in 1924 Oreste Silvestri continued the job of cleaning the painting and restoring the broken bits and pieces.

However, the painting was still not quite safe. On August 15, 1943, the room was hit with a bomb. Though the wall was sandbagged, the vibrations from the bombing may have damaged it even further. After the war, Mauro Pelliccioli attempted another cleaning of the painting.

By the time the 1970s arrived, the painting was largely unrecognizable. So, from 1978 to 1999 Pinin Brambilla Barcilon undertook a massive restoration process, the goal of which was to stabilize the painting for good and remove the damage inflicted over the years. The entire room was turned into a museum, sealed off from the outside world, as the painting could not be moved. The portions of the painting that could not be restored accurately were repainted using careful watercolors while the rest was studied and researched using old drawings and sketches from throughout the world. Upon finishing, Barcilon was able to recreate the first full picture of the Last Supper in hundreds of years. Today, the Last Supper painting sits in its current exhibit in Milan. To view the painting you must sign up for a long waiting list and are only given 15 minutes when you enter the exhibit.

The importance of the Last Supper to pop culture has also seen a recent spike as more and more people find interesting bits and pieces in the painting to discuss. The release of Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code in 2003 only helped that popularity to spike, while movies and television have been using the famous image for years now to depict the themes of Da Vinci’s painting. For those still interested in learning more, you can find incredibly detailed information on Da Vinci’s Last Supper on Last Supper wikis, as well as excellent Last Supper reprints in most art shops around the world.

The Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

The Mona Lisa, by Leonardo Da Vinci is not only one of the most important paintings ever created, it was one of the most important to Leonardo himself, a work he spent more than four years on and carried with him everywhere he went for the remainder of his life. The Importance of the Mona Lisa to Leonardo has caused great deals of speculation as to why he might have painted it and what the painting might be depicting.

When was the Mona Lisa Painted and Why?

The original Mona Lisa was painted in 1503 by Leonardo Da Vinci in his home in Italy. Vasari, the famous Italian biographer, wrote that it was a commission for Francesco del Giacondo and his wife Lisa Ghirardi, the model. Ghirardi would have been a 24 year old recent bride about to give birth to her second child at the time. Other scholars have made connections between Leonardo’s father and Francesco as friends and that Leonardo’s father might have commissioned the painting himself as a gift.

However, none of these facts are sufficient to explaining why the painting held so much value to Leonardo during his life. There are numerous theories recently postulated (in the last 100 years or so) that hope to tackle this question and make sense of the life and work of the world’s most important artist.

Other Models in the Mona Lisa by Leonardo Da Vinci

With the outstanding theory being that the Mona Lisa is a painting of Lisa Ghirardi and other theories pointing to the possibility that it could be either Constanza d’Avalos or Isabella of Aragon, Duchess of Milan, the question of its importance is still not answered. While the revolutionary style and expression in the portrait have enthralled the art world since it was painted, it doesn’t explain DaVinci’s attachment.

A Self Portrait or His Mother?

There are further theories that the painting might have been a self-portrait, supported by the similarity of the painting to other self-portraits of DaVinci he painted and with other paintings that carry similar facial features. Another theory still postulates that he may have instilled some of the features of his mother in all of these paintings, making the Mona Lisa a portrait not of Lisa Ghirardi in detail, but of his mother Caterina.

The Importance of his Life’s Work

Throughout his life, Leonardo was intrigued by almost everything under the sun. He had a habit of infusing his interests into numerous works, adding touches of his obsession with weather and topography into the Mona Lisa in the background to show humanity’s culmination with nature. For that reason, his artwork was incredibly important to him, not only as art but as an expression of his life’s work. With such a small painting, and four years of work put into it, it could just be that he kept it with him as a representative of that.

With so much time and energy put into his masterpiece, Leonardo may have simply been wary to part way s with it, unable to find a suitable buyer, or lost the commission after the painting was completed. Whatever reason he so loved it though, Mona Lisa by da Vinci is full of the kinds of mystery and importance that has endured for more than 500 years.

The Last Supper Alternative Versions

Other Last Supper Pictures in History

There have been numerous other versions of the Last Supper painted over the years. It was considered a very important piece during the Renaissance and because of that was repeatedly crafted for the sake of proving that an artist could do so. After Leonardo’s famous work, many other artists were influence by the Last Supper. There are numerous different versions. These are a few of the most famous:

Durer’s Last Supper

Durer worked numerous sketches and preliminary drawings for a series of portraits portraying the Passion and the last supper. His drawings, found and dated to the years 1521-1523, in Berlin, Florence, and Frankfurt show his intentions to create a different perspective of the Last Supper, with Christ sitting sideways.

The Last Supper by Castagno

Castagno’s depiction of the Last Supper predated Leonardo’s by almost 50 years. Originally painted in 1447, the Last Supper was a companion piece to his works depicting the Passion. The room itself is depicted as a rather sober architectural affair and is filled with numerous marble panels in full color, to set a more engaging backdrop to the affair of the painting itself. The painting is famous for many its smaller details, including the halos depicted on each of the characters and the highlights in their hair. While Judas sits, isolated on the other side of the table in this painting, John sleeps casually beside Jesus, two common themes in paintings of these figures.

The Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio

Ghiraldeno’s Last Supper is depicted on the wall of a refectory in Ognissanti. His image is based very much on the architectural style of Castagno while creating a series of vivid animated  lines and angles. He refrains from any emotional or dramatic expression and depicts his figures as rather peaceful and at ease, even Judas. He keeps his Judas postured on the opposite side of the table as Christ though and most of the characters are isolated in their serene gestures.

His lunettes in particular are of note as they depict the vivid gardens and palm-trees that don’t quite fit in but create a rather bourgeois effect on the architecture. A peacock sits on the windowsill and a fine white tablecloth with fancy embroidery graces the table. It appears to be more of an Italian room and table than anything in the time of Christ.

Salvador Dali’s Sacrament of the Last Supper

Dali’s attempt to create a Last Supper came shortly after he entered what is known as his “classical period” leaving behind much of what made his Surrealist work so engaging. The painting though, is still typical Dali in that it stretches beyond the image itself. After viewing the painting, Salvador Dali’s influence from The Last Supper became very apparent in his work. He himself described his painting as “Arithmetic and philosophical cosmogory based on the paranoiac sublimity of the number twelve…the pentagon contains microman:Christ”.  His images are classical and yet modernized by the removal of triangular shapes to be replaced by five sides and the image of man above the supper.

Tintoretto’s Last Supper

During the years between 1590 and 1600, Tintoretto and his workshop were commissioned to paint numerous paintings to decorate the new Church of San Giorgio Maggiore. He gave many of the works to his coworkers. However, there is no argument that the Tintoretto Last Supper was painted by himself. He had actually painted the scene numerous times throughout his life. This particular version is one in which he has Christ mingling with his followers, an image not common in the time. There is a singular, winged figure in the light around his head in the Tintoretto Last Supper, creating a different kind of painting than any of the other Last Suppers.

The Last Supper of Phillipe de Champagne

Champagne’s Supper at Emmaus has occasionally been attributed to Philippe’s nephew Jean-Baptiste, though there is no way to be sure. The painting itself would have been painted sometime between 1631 and 1684 then depending on which of them pained it. The painting itself is a simple portrait of Jesus and two of his disciples seated with a man, most likely a server, dealing with a cat on the ground and another listening to Jesus’s words. The painting’s style has been attributed to the influence of the Jensenist Monestary near Paris, where much of Champagne’s influence derived.

The Last Supper of Jacopo Bassano

Bassano’s painting of the Last Supper is believed to date to around 1538 and is considered a premier piece in the life of the artist. The painting was likely completed during the years Bassano stayed with Bonifacio da Pitati in his workshop, a painter who himself often painted similar subjects. The painting itself is much more chaotic and crowded than many of the other productions of the Last Supper and much has been made of the manner in which Christ stands in contrast to that of the rough inn-keeper and the dog and cat teasing each other below the table. The disciples are postured in a manner that creates a forced perspective on the table and much of what appears in this painting has been credited for the later works of artists like Tintoretto in the Venetian style

There have been numerous other editions of the painting and no one really knows how many artists have painted the Last Supper. Emil Nolde’s Last Supper as well as the Last Supper of Gebhard are both great examples of fine art. Michelangelo himself was purported to have crafted a Last Supper. A simple look into the Last Supper antique prints available will reveal numerous examples of other artists’ work. You can find numerous Last Supper pictures or information on the Last Supper by Domenico Ghirlandaio or any of the other artists listed on any number of art gallery websites.

Features of the Mona Lisa (Beyond the Smile)

The details of the Mona Lisa style utilized by Leonardo have enthralled and confused historians for centuries. Some of the smallest details have become some of art’s biggest mysteries. Beyond the smile, there are many other aspects deserving of more attention in their relation to the power of the overall painting.

Details of the Mona Lisa – Face

The Mona Lisa’s face is a culmination of numerous different stylistic elements that have the ultimate effect of drawing the observer’s attention directly to that focal point. By surrounding the face with the darkened surfaces of her dress, hair and veil, Leonardo utilized the natural lighting embracing her breast and hands to focus attention on the face.

The face itself is comprised of a numerous very powerful features. Foremost, everyone recognizes the enigmatic smile as an important aspect. Still debated today, the smile is seen differently by everyone who views the painting. It has been noted as innocent, happy, smug, and even a subconscious admission of Oedipal intrigue by Leonardo.

The combination of that almost imperceptible smile and the lighting of the spherical shapes on her face creates an inviting face that draws the viewer in, all the while contrasting with Leonardo’s use of distance and separation in the armrest and columns. Along with the eyes, these features are the most effective of the many lasting effects Leonardo crafts in this painting, a portrait that is so much more than a portrait.

Details of the Mona Lisa – Eyebrows

The face of the Mona Lisa is famously lacking any eyebrows, something many observers immediately note when viewing the painting. The reason for this deficiency is still largely unknown, as the question of whether or not it was purposefully done or not cannot really be known. One theory is that they might have been irretrievably destroyed during an early restoration hundreds of years ago. Another theory is that young women in that era often had their eyebrows plucked or removed as a part of popular fashion.

Details of the Mona Lisa – Eyes

In painting the Mona Lisa, Leonardo manage to create the magnificent effect of distance of closeness at the same time. Buried in the shadow of her brow, Mona Lisa’s eyes are the most piercing and inviting aspect of the entire painting. While the rest of the painting creates a sense of distance and separation, Mona Lisa’s eyes work to bridge that gap and invite the observer ever closer. The eyes focus directly on the observer and despite the simple look they offer, are vital to fully appreciating the dynamic effects of the facial expression. By staring at the eyes, the smile’s effect is amplified in periphery, creating an even more powerful expression. The beauty of this simplistic smile can be compared to the most beautiful of Mona Lisa lillies.

With a smile that is ageless, films, novels, and the ever beautiful Mona Lisa lily named for her elegant simplicity, Mona Lisa’s features are the paramount of artistic talent and expression.

Da Vinci’s Early Paintings (1470-1490)

Early Paintings Leonardo Da Vinci Painted and Info on Them

Many ask the question, How many paintings has Leonardo Da Vinci painted? The answer is: not very many. However, those that he did paint have become worldwide masterpieces recognized everywhere for their incredible talent. Leonardo DaVinci’s paintings first began appearing in the 1470s with the Baptism of Christ, painted in tandem with Verrocchio. During his time spent in Verrocchio’s workshop, two other paintings are believed to have been painted, both Annunciations. The first is a small 59cm long, 14 cm high piece. It is a “predella” for a much larger work, a painting by Lorenzo Di Credi. The second of these Annunciations was a 217 cm long piece, much larger in scale.

Both of these initial paintings were crafted in the very basic Fra Angelico formation, pictures of the Virgin Mary sitting on the right side of the picture with an angel to her left. The angel in both paintings is wearing a flowing gown and has raised wings and a lily. In the smaller, first picture, Mary has her eyes downcast as a submissive gesture toward God. In the second, larger picture however, Mary is not submissive at all. The second picture shows Mary with a finger placed in her bible to mark her place and a hand raised in greeting to the angelic visitor before her. She takes on her position as the Mother of God with confidence. This first of a handful of Leonardo Da Vinci paintings begins his technique of placing a human face on the image of divine figures.

Da Vinci’s Paintings of the 1480s

Beginning with Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings in the 1480s, he received two substantial commissions among a few smaller works. He started a third work that would be groundbreaking in how it was composed. The first of the two commissions was the image of St. Jerome in the Wilderness. It is barely started and Da Vinci never finished it, but what is present is very odd compared to other works of the time. Da Vinci placed the figure of Jerome in the middle of the composition and slightly below the line of sight. He forms a trapezoidal shape and looks in the opposite direction with his signature lion sprawled across the front of the painting. The landscape itself is slightly odd with craggy rock formations around the saint.

Among Leonardo da Vinci’s paintings that were never finished, the unfinished Adoration of the Magi s one of his most famous. It was commissioned by the Monks of San Donato a Scopeto. It is about 250cm square and involved years of preliminary sketches and drawings by Leonardo before he even started. However, he left in 1482 for Milan to win favor with Ludovico il Moro and was never able to finish the work.

The third and final painting from this period that Da Vinci worked on was the Virgin of the Rocks, a commission he took in Milan. The work itself was to cover an altar piece for the Immaculate Conception Church with the help of the de Predis brothers. The painting itself portrayed an image never found in the Bible but in the apocryphal tomes of other writers. It shows a meeting between John the Baptist as an infant in the care of an angel with Jesus’s family as they traveled to Egypt. The infant John sees and worships Jesus and shows them all kneeling before Christ in the midst of a series of rocks and swirling water. These baby pictures of Leonardo Da Vinci are famous throughout the world, largely because there are two completed versions when there are so few of his other works.

The painting by Da Vinci eventually completed was not nearly the commission he was given though. The brothers of the Immaculate Conception had request a much larger painting with upwards of 50 figures and full architectural details. Eventually the painting was finished and another version completed along side it, which Da Vinci took with him to France. However, no one was paid for their work and the church never received what they had asked for.

Da Vinci’s The Last Supper Conspiracy Theories

The Last Supper: A Painting with Mary Magdalene?

There are numerous theories and legends attached to the Last Supper, a painting already rife with symbols. In recent years, many of these theories have appeared in novels and in movies depicting Leonardo’s The Last Supper, controversies that have only been blown up with their inclusion in the huge selling Da Vinci Code.

One of the first legends attached to the painting, not quite a controversy, but an interesting legend regardless, is that the model used to paint Jesus is the same as the one used to paint Judas. It has been said that Leonardo hired a nice young baker, around 19 years of age to be the model for Jesus. A few years later, when finishing the mural, Leonardo hired a criminal to sit as the model for Judas. The legend has it that the model was the same person as the one used for Jesus. However, there is no direct evidence that any of this is true, especially as the mural is believed to have only taken 3 years to complete.

The biggest theory though, and one that has gotten a lot of press and attention in recent novels, is that the figure seated to the left of Jesus is actually Mary Magdalene and not John. These theories describe the figure as having a womanly bosom and the facial features of a woman. The posture is described as feminine and graceful, while Peter appears to be making a threatening gesture toward the throat. In Dan Brown’s famous Da Vinci Code, the correlation between the Last Supper and the picture of the knife were made world famous. The theory of course goes deeper as writers have postulated (and not always in fiction) that Leonardo was the head of a secret society which held such secrets.

The theory itself is subject to much criticism though. First, critics argue that the damage to the painting makes it impossible to know if the figure is male or female. Furthermore, the figure is wearing men’s clothing.

Next, there are only thirteen figures in the painting. If John were replaced by Mary Magdalene it would mean that an apostle was removed altogether. It would have been noted much earlier if an apostle were missing from the painting. The knife itself is pointing towards Bartholomew, a man who is later executed by being flayed. It is largely believed that the knife might allude to Peter’s impulsive acts later in removing a soldier’s ear.

The original sketches do not reveal any of the secrets of the Last Supper either. Originally preserved in Da Vinci’s notebooks they do not show any female faces either nor do they offer any clues that John might in fact be Mary Magdalene.

Another reason why John might look so feminine is that it was common during the time period to paint John as a youthful, feminine looking male. Because he was the youngest of the apostles, he was often shown with long hair and a clean face. He is also shown often as the most devout of the apostles, asleep beside Jesus, a common technique.

Another popular theory is that there is in fact no cup in the painting, despite the directions in which Jesus’ hands point. There are numerous cups located on the table, though the actual location is hard to discern because of the deterioration of the mural. The argument over realism in Leonardo’s paintings though continues. He largely disagreed with the use of methods such as Michelangelo’s showing supernatural forms or embellishments.

Another theory that has been created due to the nature in which the painting was created on a wall, is that a grail like image appears behind the figure of Bartholemew. However, because of the cup that some say is within reach of Jesus (though it’s impossible to be sure), it is hard to know if this is merely an optical illusion or a purposeful representation of the Holy Chalice. The image itself usually only appears in small scale reproductions. On the larger scale, the series of shapes that create the illusion only appear to do so when certain parts are removed, as with what occurs in small scale reproductions. It’s ultimately impossible to know with the deterioration of the painting.

The presence of the number 3 in Da Vinci’s painting, the Last Supper has also created much speculation over the possibilities the painting represents. The disciples are bound in threes, there are three windows behind them and Christ is placed in a pose similar to a triangle.