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The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci - Essay Example

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The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

The mural painting, “The Last Supper,” is a breathtaking masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci depicting the figure of Jesus Christ sitting at the center of a long table, surrounded by his Apostles. It shows the last days of Jesus during which he was to reveal the betrayal of one of his Apostles The painting was commissioned by Duke Ludovico Sforza for the dining hall of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in Milan, Italy. Da Vinci worked on this painting for three years, from 1495-1498 and applied a new technique called tempera instead of using the expected fresco method (Ladwein 2006). Due to this, the painting has seen a lot of destruction over the years and has needed a lot of care and retouching to maintain some of its originality. Regardless of this, the painting is a beautiful work of genius, inspiring grandeur and awe through the centuries in anyone who looks upon it. The tempera technique was a new one, invented by Da Vinci, which he wanted to experiment with when creating “The Last Supper.” He didn’t want to paint on wet plaster for that would have severely limited the amount of time which he could spend working on the painting. Da Vinci wanted to capture the smallest of details and colors and working with plaster would not have allowed him to achieve such excessive exquisiteness when painting (“Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper”). He applied a combination of tempera, a mixture of egg yolk and vinegar, with oil painting and used dry plaster to be able to better control the types of colors he could use (Ladwein 2006). This also allowed Da Vinci to redo specific areas without worrying about the plaster drying. Although, this allowed him ample time to complete the mural, it didn’t however stand up to the test of time. For, only a few years after its completion, the mural started showing signs of ruin. For example, the humidity caused the plaster to peel off at many places and even the paint starting falling off. This deterioration has led to many restoration incidents. As early as 1517 the painting was started to be described as being ruined (“Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper”). The paint was horribly faded and the faces became unrecognizable. A curtain was even hung to protect the painting, but it only worked to absorb moisture and further destroy and scratch the painting. The first true attempt occurred in 1726, where Michelangelo Bellotti, tried to fill in the missing areas with oil paint and later varnished the entire mural for protection. This too did not last long because the materials used weren’t up to the important task and in 1770, Giuseppe Mazza, had to repaint the entire mural (“Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper”). He wasn’t allowed to completely finish due to the growing controversy and resentment of the public, for, they felt that the artists were taking liberty with the work and recreating it however they pleased. However, time wasn’t the only enemy of this magnificent work of art. For example, at the end of the eighteenth century, French troops badly vandalized the painting, threw stones at it, and even tried to scratch the faces of the Apostles (“Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper”). It was severely destroyed before an attempt was made to relocate it to a safe location. While moving it, the painting was again further damaged. Many parts had torn off and glue was futilely used to attach the pieces back together. Two more attempts were made to clean the parts which were still attached and stable. The twentieth century didn’t fare any better for the mural painting. For, it met with heavy bombing and vibrations during world war two. The painting was destroyed beyond recognition and a major restoration project took place during the late 1970’s in hopes of fixing all the past mistakes and improper attempts at repairing it (“Leonardo da Vinci. The Last Supper”). The project lasted more than twenty years and great care was taken to stabilize the condition of the painting and ...Show more
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The mural painting, “The Last Supper,” is a breathtaking masterpiece by Leonardo da Vinci depicting the figure of Jesus Christ sitting at the center of a long table, surrounded by his Apostles. It shows the last days of Jesus during which he was to reveal the betrayal of one of his Apostles …
The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci
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