Thursday, September 20, 2012

Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper

Today was a big day for us!  We visited Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper!  I had booked tickets about a month ago - prior to our leaving California.  I selected a date when my brother, Bob and my niece, Becky would be visiting us.  They arrived safely here last Tuesday evening and we are loving having someone to share our sightseeing with!

The picture at the top of the page is not the real Last Supper, it is a copy located in the Leonardo da Vinci National Science and Technology Museum which is located about two blocks from the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where the Last Supper was painted in the refectory of the Dominican Monastery that adjoins the church.  They don't allow pictures of the actual mural in order to help preserve it.  When you come to see this "key image of Western Civilization" your tour group walks through two different rooms to dehumidify you.  Then you enter the dining hall and there it is!  It seems amazing to just walk right in and see the actual mural right there on the wall.

A 21-year restoration project was completed in 1999.  It removed 500 years of touch-ups.  Almost from the time it was painted, it began to deteriorate.  Instead of using the fresco technique, where the work is painted on wet plaster, da Vinci painted with tempera applied to a dry wall.  This method allowed him to work on the project for a long time instead of having to complete each section while the plaster was wet.  It was created over several years from 1495 to 1498. Unfortunately, using this method meant that the paint was just on top of the wall's surface and resulted in flaking. It's really a miracle that the painting exists at all because the church was bombed during World War II and the only wall of the refectory that was left standing was the wall on which it was painted!

The painting depicts the moment when Christ says, "One of you will betray me."  Each of the twelve apostles is responding to that statement in their own way - from Andrew who appears to be gesturing in a way that says "not I," to Simon Peter who appears to be requesting John to ask Jesus to reveal who it is, to Judas who is clutching his bag of silver and is the only one who doesn't look astonished.

How thrilling it was to see this masterpiece in person!

After that, we looked at the church next to the monastery - Santa Maria delle Grazie.

Then we headed off to the Leonardo da Vinci National Science and Technology Museum.

In addition to the copy of The Last Supper, they had another painting that was done about 200 years later which was strongly based on Leonardo da Vinci's original painting, demonstrating interest in the masterpiece in the sixteen hundreds.

We saw models of machines from da Vinci's sketchbooks:

A moveable bridge

A ship designed to ram other vessels

A crane

A sawmill powered by water

A printing press

We also saw celestial and terrestrial globes made in Venice in the sixteen hundreds:

A beautiful Focult pendulum

We also viewed a display of musical instruments including dulcimers, lyres, lutes, violins, harpsichords, and mandolins.

And an interesting display of jewelry.

All-in-all a wonderful day!

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