It is in Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan where one of the most enigmatic paintings in the history of art is on display: The Last Supper (1495-1498) by Italian Renaissance genius, Leonardo da Vinci. Despite being a biblical theme, it intrigues us more than La Gioconda, as it is a work that inspires fiction, historians and leaves many a spectator fascinated. Leonardo captures in this painting a crucial moment in the life of Christ, the very moment in which he states: “One of you shall betray me”.
The expressions on the apostle’s faces are amazing: each reacts differently to this statement, something that is noticed by the grimaces and gestures of the hands. From left to right, we can recognize four groups of three apostles and at the centrre of the table, separated from the others, Jesus Christ. On one side we see Bartholomew, James the Less and Andrew, Judas Iscariot with black hair and a beard, Simon Peter and John, Thomas , James, and Philip, Matthew, Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot. The twelve are gathered around the table to share the bread and wine of the Last Supper of Christ, where he announces the forthcoming betrayal of one of them. Each one wonders if it’s them or not and are anxious. The Catholic Church considers this dramatic moment as the institution of the Eucharist.
One of the enigmas of this masterpiece is the hand that appears between Simon and John, and seems to come from nowhere. There are also questions as to the character of John, who looks female; a figure reminiscent of the Mona Lisa. This painting has been restored seven times since the technique used was not one of the best. One of the restorations however, lasted 21 years!
We can not reveal all the secrets and interpretations contained in this giant painting (460 cm x 880 cm) as throughout history new readings and new details have been found. The symbolism of the characters has never really been understood and it appears to be an inexhaustible source of mystical meanings.
If you want to discover a few more secrets about this fascinating piece of artwork, travel to Milan but please book in advance because not more than twenty people at once are allowed to see the painting and once in the room you can not stay for more than ten minutes. Each year, around 300,000 people do get to visit it, however. Leonardo was a genius of painting, mathematics, engineering, nature, perspective, architecture and sculpture. Visit the Last Supper and take advantage of the charm of the city. If you rent apartments in Milan, you are guaranteed a pleasant and worthwhile stay.