Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, 2
The Cenacolo Vinciano, known as “The Last Supper” is the greatest masterpiece of Leonardo da Vinci and was commissioned by the Duke of Milan Ludovico il Moro in 1494. The Duke chose the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie as the burial ground for his family; Beatrice d’Este, his wife, is buried here.
He also decided to bring about some changes to the large cloister and the apse, decorating the refectory with the magnificent da Vinci fresco.
It was painted between 1494 and 1498 by Leonardo da Vinci.
The artist was not fond of the technique of fresco painting because the paints tend to dry out too quickly and it becomes almost impossible to retouch the work. For this reason he decided to use the technique typical of easel painting which would allow him to work slowly and reflectively, studying his subjects in detail.
The technique he used is the main reason that the painting is in such a state of degradation. The chosen environment demonstrated immediately that it was not suitable to house the work: From the beginning the presence of damp in the walls and the continuous changes in temperature caused the first signs of deterioration.
The Last Supper shows one of the most important scenes, and the richest in meaning from the Gospel according to John.
During “The Last Supper” Jesus announced to his apostles that one of them would betray him. The gestures, expressions and postures of the Apostles render them extremely expressive. The figures show their shock and their anguish at what Jesus tells them. They wonder who the traitor will be and what is the real significance of the words used by Jesus.
The 12 apostles are divided into 4 groups of 3: among them is Judas who remains partially in shadow and is perturbed because he knows that he is guilty. Jesus in the centre is isolated from to the disciples and represents the central axis of the composition, thus the artist perfectly expresses the awareness of he who knows will be abandoned by everyone, but also the serenity of who has accepted his mission. Peter seems almost angry at Jesus’ insinuations and he turns towards his companions with an angry look on his face, John on the other hand looks resigned and Thaddeus looks fearful and sad.