The last Supper from the middle ages to Leonardo Da Vinci


‘The biblical episode of The Last Supper is one of the most visually evocative subjects of die Christian tradition. Depicting the betrayal of Christ by Judas Iscariot and the origin of the Eucharist, it represents the entirety of the Christian Mystery and reveals multitude of important insights concerning the figure of Christ and the nature of the Church. With this exhibition, the Meeting intends to offer a consideration of the various iconographic aspects which have been developed by the artistic tradition, with spe-cific emphasis on separate and different particulars, cul-minating in the outstanding synthesis created by Leonardo da Vinci in The Last Supper, inspired by the learned Dominican prior Vincenzo Bandello, and painted on the refectory wall of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie at Milan. The first section of the exhibition presents six different aspects of the iconografic content of the theme of The Last Supper, starting from the declination of these aspects used by Leonardo in his work, and attempting to identity the sources and illustrate the figurative traditions upon which they are based. The aspects considered include: 1) the centrality of Christ in the various versions of The Last Supper, in which Christ, minister and victim, ap-pears always as the predominant figure, the focal point of the whole scene; 2) the gestures of the Apostles, questioning, welcoming, offering as the inevitable responses to the actions of Christ; 3) the particular affection shown towards John, the figurative translation of the love of Christ for mankind, of which The Last Supper is the most complete represen-tation; 4) the mystery of the Eucharist. This aspect is portrayed in several versions of The Last Supper, starting with the depiction of the origin of the Eucharist, widespread above all in the north of Europe, and the communion of the Apostles, belonging more to Byzantine and Orien-tal traditions, and concluding with the more intimate image of Christ which is connected with the Cruci-fixion, as evident in the 14th-centtury Florentine School; 5) the mystery of the Church. The relationship between The Last Supper and the Church is revealed particularly in a series of images from the medieval tradition of illuminated miniatures, which place the scene in a set-ting of religious architecture; 6) the destiny of mankind and of future history. This last aspect is typical of the bas-reliefs which adorn the portals of a number of Romanesque and Gothic basili-cas, revealing an interpretation of The Last Supper in eschatological terms. The second section of the exhibition is dedicated to 22 full-size photographs of particulars of The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci both before and after the restora-tion work which is currently in progress. This Last Sup-per, which amalgamates all the above aspects, portrays the moment of greatest tension between the act of be-trayal and the revelation of the betrayer, leaving Christ alone and isolated at the centre of the tableau, minister and victim.’


01 Gennaio 1990 - 09 Gennaio 1990




Agorà C1 (Area CdO)
Exhibitions Meeting Exhibitions