Meaning Behind: The Last Supper Essay

2512 words - 11 pages

Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting The Last Supper was first started in 1495 and completed in 1498. The image captures at the Last Supper the moment after Jesus tells his twelve apostles that one of them will betray him. (Da Vinci, 1495-98) Leonardo completed his notorious painting in a lunchroom in the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Britannica, “Leonardo da Vinci”) I chose this painting for various reasons. I just completed a course at Lewis University called the Message of Jesus. The last supper, documented in all four of the Gospels in the New Testament, was discussed heavily. I wanted to take what I learned about the last supper and combine it with art. I have the knowledge about the last supper and want to learn about it more from an artistic perspective. I have always found analyzing art as challenging yet rewarding and wanted to gain more experience appreciating art. Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper captures how each of the apostles undergoes a unique, passionate emotion that emphasizes the wide range of human feelings during the climax of tension when Jesus reveals that one of them will betray him.
Some people may not agree and instead argue that Leonardo da Vinci’s piece The Last Supper is a simple bible painting that focuses on the apostles eating with Jesus. These individuals may emphasis the dining experience and the gathering of Jesus and his disciples. However, it is impossible to overlook how this piece captures the apostles’ natural, human emotions after hearing about the betrayal. Moreover, “This correspondence between physical movement and mental emotion is perfectly achieved in the scene of the Last Supper” (Heydenreich, 67). The meal itself is not the chief purpose of the painting. Leonardo utilizes this masterpiece to become, “A Shakespeare of the paintbrush, raising ethical questions and capturing universal emotions in a scene of intense drama that has little, if anything, to do with a religious ceremony” (King, 213). The artist uses the biblical story to demonstrate human emotions and how each individual can respond to striking news in various ways. (King, 213) Therefore, the painter is using the biblical scene as a tool to demonstrate human emotions to his audience. Moreover, the food at the meal itself is vaguely described in the gospels expect for the bread and wine, and Leonardo does depict both the bread and the wine to allude to the biblical episode. However, the striking facial expression and body language of each individual in the painting pose more questions and hold more meaning than the meal itself. Leonardo paints the food in dim colors and does not give the meal much detail whereas he highlights the apostles and Jesus and uses extreme facial details to emphasize the meaning of his painting: natural human emotion.
Each of the twelve disciples is identified by his body language that reveals each individual’s character. The twelve are, “individually distinguished on from another, not just by the...

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