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Analysis of the Da Vinci's Last Supper

Da Vinci's Last Supper

The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is one of history's most iconic and celebrated works of art. The painting depicts the biblical scene of Jesus sharing his final meal with his disciples before his crucifixion. Despite being over 500 years old, the painting fascinates and inspires people worldwide. This article will critically analyze Da Vinci's Last Supper, exploring its historical context, composition and design, symbolism and meaning, technical aspects, and legacy.

Historical Background

Ludovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, commissioned the Last Supper in the late 15th century. Da Vinci lived in Milan then and was renowned for his artistic abilities. The painting was intended to be a centerpiece for the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery, where it still hangs today. This location was significant, as the painting was intended to remind the monks of the importance of humility and the need to resist temptation.

The composition and design of the Last Supper are masterful, demonstrating Da Vinci's innovations and skill as an artist. The painting is a fresco, meaning it was painted on a wet plaster surface, which allowed for greater detail and depth. Da Vinci used a one-point perspective to create a sense of depth and distance in the painting. It involves drawing all lines to converge at a single vanishing point, which gives the illusion of three-dimensionality.

Da Vinci also used symmetry in the placement of the figures in the painting, with Jesus at the center and the disciples arranged in groups of three on either side. This composition creates a sense of balance and order, with Jesus as the focal point. The placement of the figures also allows for the depiction of a wide range of emotions and reactions, from shock and confusion to anger and betrayal.

Symbolism and Meaning

The Last Supper is full of religious and cultural symbolism, which has been the subject of much interpretation and analysis of the Last Supper over the years. One of the most striking elements of the painting is the use of light and shadow to create a sense of drama and emotion. The light source in the painting comes from a window on the left-hand side, which illuminates the figure of Jesus and creates a sense of divine presence.

The gestures and expressions of the figures in the painting also convey a range of emotions and meanings. Jesus is depicted with outstretched arms as a symbol of his sacrifice and willingness to die for his followers. Judas, seated on the opposite side of the table, is shown with his face in shadow and his hand clutching a small bag of coins, a clear symbol of his impending betrayal.

Technical Analysis of the Last Supper

The Last Supper is a masterpiece of technical skill, with Da Vinci using various materials and techniques to create the painting. The fresco was painted on a dry plaster surface, meaning Da Vinci had to work quickly and accurately to achieve the desired effect. He used a variety of pigments and mediums, including egg yolk and vinegar, to create a vibrant palette.

Over the years, the painting has undergone numerous conservation and restoration efforts to preserve its delicate state. In the 20th century, a significant restoration effort was undertaken to repair damage caused by centuries of exposure to light and humidity. Despite these efforts, the painting remains fragile and must be carefully protected and maintained.

Legacy and Impact

The Last Supper has impacted art and culture, inspiring countless artists and writers over the centuries. Its symbolism and meaning resonate with people worldwide, making it one of history's most recognizable and iconic works of art. The painting has been interpreted and reinterpreted countless times, with different artists and scholars offering unique insights and perspectives.

It has also profoundly impacted popular culture, appearing in movies, television shows, and advertising campaigns. Its image has been used to sell everything from chocolate to beer, demonstrating the enduring power and appeal of the painting.


Da Vinci's Last Supper is a masterpiece of art and a testament to the skill and creativity of one of history's greatest artists. Through our critical analysis of the Last Supper, we have explored its historical context, composition, meaning, technical aspects, and legacy. The Last Supper continues to inspire and captivate people worldwide, a powerful reminder of the enduring power of art and the human spirit.

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