April 9, 2009

The Last Supper

Among the masterpieces representing the Passion of Jesus, the Last Supper frescoed by Leonardo da Vinci in the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, is perhaps the most famous in the world. Many people know it, but few know a) the precise moment of the last supper that it represents, b) how to interpret the meaning of Jesus’ actions, and those of the apostles, and c) that this fresco can be understood only in conjunction with another painting that occupies the front wall of the same refectory, representing the crucifixion.

To remove the blindfold, on March 30, 2009, Timothy Verdon, an American art historian and priest, published this essay in L’Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper. He explains from an artistic, theological, and liturgical perspective the profound meaning of the Last Supper.

“It is an artistically sublime way to understand the first act of Jesus’ passion,” says Sandro Magister, who had the wonderful idea of re-publishing the article in his own website.


  1. the last supper is not a fresco, if it were a fresco it would be intact to this day, it was painted in oils on top of a lime whitewash. because it was painted in oils it began to flake and degrade within a couple of decades of it's completion due to moisture and contraction of the wall. fresco paintings were painted directly onto wet plaster and so were done relatively quickly.

  2. Ho messo esattamente la stessa foto sul blog. telepatia?
    Buona giornata!

  3. Interesting and most reverent analysis. Yet much the work of Leonardo da Vinci also seems enigmatic. The ideas that the unique chalice in The Last Supper also represents the Grail, and that the Apostle John on the right of Jesus was Mary Magdalene, are not unfeasible. But then great art is always evocative allowing the beholder to always interpret it in his own way.

    I read somewhere that Leonardo's preferred master piece was his most famous 'Gioconda', so much so that he often carried it about with him. No artist has ever managed to reproduce it satisfactorily although hundreds in history have tried and keep on trying. Others prefer to deride it, which is much easier.
    It could be surmised that it represents the concentrated knowledge, understanding and sentiment of Leonardo, which would make it more a 'self-portrait', than a painting of anyone in particular. This would also explain why there is no real certainty, despite a few theories, as to the identity of the sitter, which seems strange for such a great work of art.

  4. Interesting. Puts The Last Supper in a new light. Thanks, Rob.