21 de abril de 2011

Leonardo da Vinci - The Last Supper

The Last Supper - 1498
Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie - Milan - Italy

For centuries this spectacular mural has been seen as one of the world's finest paintings and perhaps the greatest expression of its creator, Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519), who played a leading role at the forfront of the Italian Renaissance - the flourishing of the learning that peaked in the sixteenth century. His genius lay in an inventive curiosity that embraced both art and sciences. The Last Supper is the perfect synthesis of Leonardo's talent. Cleverly situated and conceived, it looks down from its lofty position on the north wall of the Convent of Santa Maria's refectory. As the diners sat down to eat, Christ and his twelve disciples cast their inspiring spiritual presence over the pious individuals beneath, Leonardo subtly highlights Christ's status in the group by painting his figure slightly larger and framed against the light of the window. He introduces human drama to the mural by choosing to illustrate the point when the disciples ask Christ who would betray him. Each disciple is shown reacting in a way that reveals much about them without resorting to the symbolism forced by his contemporaries. Da Vinci painted this mural on a dry plaster, which allowed him to work it as a whole, rather than having to finish one section at a time as was norm with traditional wet-plaster frescoes. Sadly, decay set in early because medium was less durable. Two early copies of The Last Supper are known to exist, presumably the work of Leonardo's assistant. The copies are almost the size of the original, and have survived with a wealth of original detail still intact. This bold experimentation, along with his pioneering grasp of composition, light, and perspective, are among the reasons da Vinci achieved an eminence that has lasted across centuries.
About the significance of the attitude and position of the Apostles:
From left to right: Bartholomew, James, son of Alphaeus and Andrew form a group of three, all are surprised. Judas Iscariot, Peter and John form another group of three. Judas is wearing green and blue and is in shadow, looking rather withdrawn and taken aback by the sudden revelation of his plan. He is clutching a small bag, perhaps signifying the silver given to him as payment to betray Jesus, or perhaps a reference to his role within the 12 disciples as treasurer. He is the only person to have his elbow on the table and his head is also horizontally the lowest of anyone in the painting. Peter looks angry and is holding a knife pointed away from Christ, perhaps foreshadowing his violent reaction in Gethsemane during Jesus' arrest. The youngest apostle, John, appears to swoon. Jesus Apostle Thomas, James the Greater and Philip are the next group of three. Thomas is clearly upset; James the Greater looks stunned, with his arms in the air. Meanwhile, Philip appears to be requesting some explanation. Matthew, Jude Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot are the final group of three. Both Jude Thaddeus and Matthew are turned toward Simon, perhaps to find out if he has any answer to their initial questions.
Source: Ann Kay - Da Vinci and Wikipedia

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