The “Last Supper” is a painting by Leonardo Da Vinci that was created in the late 15th Century. The painting is the representation of the Last Supper of Jesus and his disciples as is portrayed in the Gospel of St. John just before he was crucified on the cross. The commissioning of the painting by the then Duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza was part of the renovations of the convent and church, Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan. It is suggested that Leonardo Da Vinci commenced work on the piece in 1495.
In total, Leonardo painted thirteen figures and used an array of colors to ensure that the work was colorful and as realistic as possible. The painter employed the major hues including red, green, yellow and blue. The garments of the disciple seated second right to Jesus as compared to the disciple seated on Jesus’ left display different intensities in green. The garments on the disciple seated next Jesus on his left is a brighter shade of green as compared to the one seated on the left. The different shades of color have been given different intensities to bring out distinctive features on the kind of clothes the people on the painting are wearing.
The shapes of the people in the painting are distinctively organic. Organic shapes are those that have a natural look. For example, plants, leaves and animals have organic shapes. The organic shapes aim at giving the viewer a sense of reality. Therefore, the painter has used the organic shapes to ensure that his figures appear as real figures. Realism in painting during this period has been attributed to the Reformation. It is however also true that Leonardo used geometrical shapes to complete his painting. This can be seen in features such as the background wall whose windows have distinct rectangular shapes. Geometrical shapes can also be seen in the plates and the table on which they have been placed. The integration of geometry and organic shapes has been used to enhance reality in the painting.
The use of lines has been used to draw the outlines of the shapes in the painting. The lines are inherently thin lines so that the outlines may seem realistic. The texture of the painting just from the view of the original painting gives a sense of a rough texture. This texture has been attributed to the technique used by the painter. The painting was done on a dry wall instead of a wet plaster and with time, the painting started to chip away giving it a rough sense of texture. Form on the other hand refers to the visible aspects of a painting. The form of the figures painted gives a three-dimensional and creates the illusion that the figures in the painting have mass. Form is achieved by the unity of the elements in the painting that include color, lines, and shapes among other elements. This unity has brought about effect of reality in the figures drawn in the painting. Overlap has been used as a space technique in the painting. This is where a painter uses small figures and large figures to depict distance. This can be seen with the mountainous view that can be seen through the windows in the background. The fact that these features have been painted smaller than the figurines on the foreground, Leonardo has managed to create the illusion of distance.
The contrast in the painting can be seen in the different colors used. In this sense, the use of color can be used to accentuate the features of objects within the painting. In the painting contrast has been used to distinguish the subject of the painting from the other features in the painting. The dark background has accentuated the figures of Jesus and his disciples. Balance on the other hand refers to the symmetry in the objects that have been painted. In this sense, a painting that has achieved balance should not be disproportionate. The Last Supper has achieved effective balance by every object having the right shape and symmetrical balance. Balance has also been achieved by having Jesus as the center of the painting and having six disciples on either side. This has ensured that one side does not seem overcrowded hence achieving a sense of balance in the painting.
Repetition as the name suggests is the recurrent use of various elements in a painting. This enables the viewer to understand the flow of a painting. In the Last Supper, Leonardo Da Vinci has employed the use of repetition. For example, on the table, there has been the repetition of buns, plates, small cups. These elements have been repeated to enhance the theme of a meal. The table and the people seated around it also enhance the theme of a meal that is the overall subject matter. Similarly, rhythm is achieved in the ease of movement in the viewer’s eyes when it follows and arrangement of reproduction of certain elements in an artwork. The aspect of rhythm in The Last Supper is achieved by the patterning process in the painting. For example, the tablecloth has a consistent pattern easy to grasp and easy for the eye to follow as one moves to view other elements in the painting.
Variety in a painting refers to the obvious differences in a painting that include objects, color size among other things. The Last Supper offers a lot of variety. The various elements enable the viewer to enjoy have a sense of what the scene entails. Movement in painting is the illusion of motion created in a painting. This illusion can be seen from in most of the figures in the Last Supper. Leonardo Da Vinci’s aim was to capture the moment right after Jesus mentioned that he was going to be betrayed. Thus, the movement in the painting shows the disconcertedness that was elicited by that comment. These movements also draw the viewer to the centre of interest.
The centre of interest in the Last Supper is Jesus. The point of focus has been achieved by putting Jesus at the centre. It has also been achieved by the motions amongst his disciple that draw attention to Jesus. Most of the disciples are either looking at Jesus or pointing at him. A viewer is guided to the center where Jesus is seated. Again, Jesus attracts attention by the fact that he is the one with the least sense of motion in the painting. The depiction of the center of interest achieves harmony in the painting. Harmony is an aspect of a painting where one is well aware of what the painting is trying to bring out. This painting shows the reaction of Jesus’ comment about betrayal, the expressions in the painting has created a sense of harmony in the subject matter. This harmony is then achieved by the proportions of the objects, where nothing is exaggerated beyond what is its normal size, or shrunk to a point where its depiction of reality is undermined.
The painting evokes a feeling of great marvel at the accuracy of the depiction of the scene from the Book of John. The meanings established from the Last Supper is a proper description of the Last Supper Jesus had with his disciples where his followers started to wonder who would betray the master yet they all loved him. It was during this same night that Jesus told his disciples that he would die and go to heaven. The painting can be representative of the various instances Jesus provoked surprise and wonder among his disciples with the things he said. The purpose of the work was to recreate the Last Supper Jesus with his disciples before he was arrested specifically the moment Jesus told them he would be betrayed.
The works strength lays in the clarity of the interpretation Leonardo Da Vinci had offered the world.