The Last Supper - Leonardo Da Vinci - Useful InformationBy Mark Hudson. Looking back on what went on during the Renaissance, it can seem amazing that anything of artistic value was produced at all, let alone the masterpieces we think of as embodying the era. While scientific inquiry and the pursuit of visual harmony preoccupied a privileged few, the 15th and 16th centuries were typified by endemic brutality, all-pervading corruption, superstition and futile wars of aggrandisement. That the same tangle of feuding potentates — the Hapsburgs, Medici and their ilk — were causing the wars and commissioning the masterpieces is well known. Recently, however, commentators have taken a more integrated view of the Renaissance, with the result that its artistic achievements have come to appear much less heroic than they did. Ross King has made a speciality of pacy accounts of great Renaissance artistic projects.
Leonardo and The Last Supper by Ross King - review
L eonardo da Vinci's dramatic Last Supper in the former refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan is the largest of his paintings — it covers over 40 sq m of the refectory's north wall — and many think it his greatest. It would probably be called the most famous painting in the world if that unverifiable accolade had not already been accorded to a certain moody portrait of a Florentine housewife, which he also did. It took him and his team of assistants about three years to complete. No contract for it survives, but it was almost certainly commissioned by his patron, Lodovico Sforza, in , and we know he was still at work on it in because an entry in the monastery accounts records a payment to some workmen for repairing "a window in the refectory where Leonardo is painting the Apostles". Numerous sketches, notes and preparatory drawings chart the long and sometimes troubled gestation of "this restless masterpiece" as Jacob Burckhardt described it , and the latest restoration, completed in , has revealed a wealth of information about the techniques Leonardo used. One important technical fact that has been known for centuries is that The Last Supper was not painted using traditional fresco technique watercolour and egg-tempera on moist plaster but with an experimental oil-based medium. The chief advantage of this was compositional — oils gave him the subtle tonalities that were his trademark, and the opportunity to rethink and rework as he went along — but in practical terms it was a disaster.
This artwork was painted between and under the government of Ludovico il Moro and represents the last "dinner" between Jesus and his disciples. In order to create this unique work, Leonardo carried out an exhaustive research creating an infinity of preparatory sketches. Leonardo abandons the traditional method of fresco painting, painting the scene "dry" on the wall of the refectory. Traces of gold and silver foils have been found which testify to the artist's willingness to make the figures in a much more realistic manner, including precious details. After completion, his technique and environmental factor had contributed to the eventual deterioration of the fresco, which had undergone numerous restorations. The most recent restoration was completed in where several scientific methods were used to restore the original colors as close as possible, and to eliminate traces of paint applied in previous attempts to restore the fresco. Leonardo Da Vinci's "Last Supper", a huge painting of 4.
The reason Leonardo da Vinci was painting the Last Supper was that Lodovico Sforza wanted to spruce up the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Graziein order to make it a fitting resting place for his family. Sforza could have such ambitions because he was determined to gain firm control over the city-state of Milan. Francesco Sforza, father of Lodovicio, had. Sforza certainly did not, having deposed the last Visconti, Giangaleazzo. This project came to an end with Lodovicio needed the bronze to make cannons. He also did a fair bit of grunt work, basically scenery design and interior decorating for the Sforza family.