Top 10 Facts About The Last Supper From Leonardo da Vinci


Just like the name suggests, The Last Supper is Leonardo da Vinci’s painting depicting Jesus’ final meal with his apostles before Judas, one of the apostles, gave him up for arrest and later crucifixion. Da Vinci began this painting in 1495 and took a year to complete it. It is now a famous piece that needs no introduction among many. The top 10 facts about The Last Supper from Leonardo da Vinci let us in on details about this famous work.

1. The Last Supper is not displayed in a museum

Santa Maria delle Grazie- by Marcin Białek- Wikimedia Commons

You would think that such an iconic piece of art stands magnificent in a famous Italian museum. On the contrary, it is on display in a convent in Milan. Leonardo da Vinci painted The Last Supper right into a wall of the dining hall at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, in 1495.

The complications and damages that would occur with attempts to move the painting to a perhaps more prominent place are just not worth it! It also has a ring of peculiarity to it by being at the convent.

2. The Last Supper has undergone massive restoration efforts

Restored Last Supper- Wikimedia Commons

The last supper has undergone several attempts to restore it from the damage it endured from bombings during World War II.

The painting had however already started flaking and decaying by the early 16th Century.  Leonardo da Vinci’s painting which was tempera on stone did very little to ensure its preservation- the paint did not adhere properly to the dry sealed plaster wall.

End of the 20th century works on the painting were handled by Panin Brambilla Barcilon and his crew who tried to take out layers of paint added overtime to restore the original as accurately as possible.

With all these works, however, the resultant piece after the damage is said to have a very low percentage of Leonardo’s original work.

3. The Last Supper tells a deeper story

It doesn’t require a critical look at the Last Supper to decode the faces of the subjects. The painting captures the moment after Jesus breaks the news of his impending betrayal to his disciples, who naturally are surprised and even upset that one of them would actually conceive that.

The painting also captures Jesus sharing bread and wine which are symbols of the happenings surrounding his crucifixion that was about to take place. Leonardo da Vinci’s attempt at capturing the emotions and reactions that ran high at that moment were successful.

4. Leonardo da Vinci used an unorthodox method to achieve the one-point perspective

One Point Perspective- by Braindrain0000- Wikimedia Commons

Leonardo da Vinci wanted to use the one-point perspective in his painting, important for the achievement of three- dimensional and highly realistic works. This method makes subjects appear smaller the further away they get.

Leonardo’s painting gives an illusion and draws the viewer right into it; into the chaos. To achieve this perspective, Leonardo da Vinci used a hammer and nail! The nail went into the wall and the string was tied to it to make guiding marks for the positioning of the other subjects at the perfect angles.

5. The Last Supper characters were based on real-life people

Leonardo da Vinci did not randomly paint the subjects in the Last Supper. It’s alleged that every face is modeled after a real-life person! A disciple of interest is Judas, the betrayer. It is said that he is modeled after a real-life criminal who looked the part! Leonardo scouted the jails in Milan to find the perfect looking villain. In the Last Supper, Judas is painted aptly clutching a bag of silver.

6. Leonardo da Vinci was intentional with The Last Supper meal

This 15th-century Portuguese painting of The Last Supper- by Ken & Nyetta- Wikimedia Commons

Besides the bread and wine broken and drunk at The Last Supper, Jesus and His disciples seem to be eating something else- scholars are not in agreement on whether the party is having eel or herring, and this has been up for debate. Just as well if it’s either since they both have symbolism attached to them showing that Da Vinci didn’t just need to paint any food but he picked the meal. Eel in Italian is ‘aringa’, which also means ‘to indoctrinate’, while herring is ‘renga’ which describes one who denies religion.

Both descriptions are befitting, with Jesus’ news to his disciples that one of them would deny him. Not once but three times!

7. The Last supper is the subject of many speculations

Discussions about the Last Supper’s meaning and content have kept alive for a while, with some rather wild theories emerging. For one, it is alleged that the Last Supper is key evidence of a cover-up by the Roman Catholic Church, of Christ’s true identity; that the subject on Jesus’ left-hand side is Mary Magdalene and not John. This is all explained in the book ‘The Templar Revelation’ by Lynn Picknett and Clive Prince.

Italian musician Giovanni Maria Pala used notes supposedly encoded with Leonardo da Vinci’s composition to create his 40-second long sombre song. This was considered the actual hidden message in the song.

Starting March 1 to November 1, 4006, an apocalyptic flood shall sweep the globe marking the end of the world. This message is hidden in Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, according to Vatican researcher Sabrina Sforza Galitzia who supposedly translated the Last Supper’s “mathematical and astrological” signs embedded there by the painter.

8. The Last Supper has been mimicked for centuries

Philippe de Champaigne’s Last Supper- Wikimedia Commons

It’s said imitation is the highest form of flattery- from 16th-century oil paintings to more recent imitations by artists such as Susan Dorothea White, Salvador Dali, Andy Warhol, and Vicky Muniz among others, The Last Supper has been mimicked so many times.

You may have heard of ‘The Da Vinci Code’ on TV or in theatre in movies such as Luis Buñuel’s Viridiana, Mel Brooks’ comedy History of the World, and Paul Thomas Anderson’s stoner- noir Inherent Vice.

9. Original Copies of The Last Supper are available

Copy of The Last Supper- by Giampietrino- Wikimedia Commons

If you visit London’s Royal Academy of Arts you will have the privilege of seeing an original copy of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last supper. The world has Da Vinci’s student Giampietrino to thank for this copy which he made in the 16th century as it was resourceful during the latest restoration of the actual painting. This copy is an oil painting on canvas.

There are two other original copies of the Last Supper similarly done by Leonardo da Vinci’s students. The Leonardo da Vinci Museum in Belgium hosts one of them done by Andrea Solari and the third made by Cesare da Sesto stands at the Church of Saint Ambrogio in Switzerland.

10. Leonardo da Vinci may not have perceived God as God

Stained glass art of Jesus with halo-Toby Hudson- Wikimedia Commons

This may be considered somewhat of an anti-climax and ironical of the iconic Last Supper’s painter- Leonardo da Vinci is believed to have believed in nature, not in God. This is exemplified in his painting of Jesus sans halo, whereas artists portrayed the deity with a halo at the time- it was sort of an unwritten rule.

Historians suggest that Leonardo da Vinci handled all the subjects in his painting like common folk and that he perceived God as nature.

Evidence of The Last Supper’s popularity is shown in the number of times it has been recreated or re-painted. Leonardo da Vinci was experimental with this piece, and while it can be said not to have held its own over time, it did have a big impact and still does.