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Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper

The convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie hosts one of the most famous masterpieces of Renaissance art in Italy: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. This is a large mural painting in which Christ announces that he will be betrayed by one of his apostles. Leonardo began to work on the Last Supper in 1496 and completed it in 1498. The somewhat lengthy time spent on the painting reflects the meticulous attention that he dedicated to his works. In fact, he experimented with an innovative pictorial technique. Rather than hastily applying a mixture of colours and water to fresh plaster, the usual technique for frescoes, he used a medium with oil and tempera which allowed him to paint not only more slowly but also directly on the wall. Unfortunately, his chosen medium doomed the painting to fade and peel, thus compromising its state of conservation. Leonardo also introduced significant innovations into the layout of the scene. In fact, for the first time in the history of art, all thirteen diners are seated on one side of a rectangular table. The central figure is Christ while the Apostles are divided up, symmetrically, into four groups of three, a representation that makes the scene even more lively and dramatic.

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