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Santa Maria della Grazie and Da Vinci's Last Supper

 Da Vinci's Last Supper

Da Vinci's Last Supper

Santa Maria delle Grazie ("Holy Mary of Grace") is a church and Dominican convent in Milan, northern Italy, included in the UNESCO World Heritage sites list. The church contains the mural of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci, which is in the refectory of the convent.

The Duke of Milan Francesco I Sforza ordered the building of a Dominican convent and a church in the place where a small chapel dedicated to St. Mary of the Graces was.

Santa Maria della Grazie

Santa Maria della Grazie

The main architect was Guiniforte Solari, the convent was completed by 1469 while the church took more time. The new duke Ludovico Sforza decided to have the church as the Sforza family burial place and rebuild the cloister and the apse which were completed after 1490. Ludovico's wife Beatrice was buried in the church in 1497.

Results of the Allied raid in 1943.The apse of the church is widely believed to be by Donato Bramante. However, there's no real evidence of the fact, but that Bramante lived in Milan at the time, and he is once quoted in the acts of the church (a marble delivery in 1494). He continued the gothic style from the first part, but mixed with Romanesque influence. In 1543, the Holy Crown chapel received a painting by Titian, The Crowning with Thorns. This was carried away by French troops in 1797, after their conquest of Milan.

During World War II, the night of 15 August 1943, bombs dropped by British and American planes hit the church and the convent. Much of the refectory was destroyed, but some walls survived, including the one that holds the Last Supper, which had been sand-bagged for protection.

The Last Supper (Leonardo da Vinci)
The Last Supper (Italian: Il Cenacolo or L'Ultima Cena) is a 15th century mural painting in Milan created by Leonardo da Vinci for his patron Duke Ludovico Sforza and his duchess Beatrice d'Este. It represents the scene of The Last Supper from the final days of Jesus as it is told in the Gospel of John 13:21, when Jesus announces that one of his Twelve Apostles would betray him.

 Da Vinci's Last Supper

Da Vinci's Last Supper

The Last Supper measures 450*870 centimeters (15 feet*29 ft) and covers an end wall of the dining hall at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. The theme was a traditional one for refectories, although the room was not a refectory at the time that Leonardo painted it. The main church building had only recently been completed (in 1498), but was remodeled by Bramante, hired by Ludovico Sforza to build a Sforza family mausoleum.[1] The painting was commissioned by Sforza to be the centerpiece of the mausoleum.The lunettes above the main painting, formed by the triple arched ceiling of the refectory, are painted with Sforza coats-of-arms. The opposite wall of the refectory is covered by the Crucifixion fresco by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano, to which Leonardo added figures of the Sforza family in tempera. (These figures have deteriorated in much the same way as has The Last Supper.) Leonardo began work on The Last Supper in 1495 and completed it in 1498¡ªhe did not work on the painting continuously. This beginning date is not certain, as "the archives of the convent have been destroyed and our meagre documents date from 1497 when the painting was nearly finished."

The Last Supper specifically portrays the reaction given by each apostle when Jesus said one of them would betray him. All twelve apostles have different reactions to the news, with various degrees of anger and shock. The apostles are identified from a manuscript (The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci p. 232) with their names found in the 19th century. (Before this, only Judas, Peter, John and Jesus were positively identified.) From left to right, according to the apostles heads:

Bartholomew, James, son of Alphaeus and Andrew form a group of three, all are surprised.
Judas Iscariot, Peter and John form another group of three. Judas is wearing green and blue and is in shadow, looking rather withdrawn and taken aback by the sudden revelation of his plan. He is clutching a small bag, perhaps signifying the silver given to him as payment to betray Jesus, or perhaps a reference to his role within the 12 disciples as treasurer. He is also tipping over the salt shaker. This may be related to the near-Eastern expression to "betray the salt" meaning to betray one's Master. He is the only person to have his elbow on the table and his head is also horizontally the lowest of anyone in the painting. Peter looks angry and is holding a knife pointed away from Christ, perhaps foreshadowing his violent reaction in Gethsemane during Jesus' arrest. The youngest apostle, John, appears to swoon.
Jesus.

Santa Maria della Grazie

Santa Maria della Grazie

Apostle Thomas, James the Greater and Philip are the next group of three. Thomas is clearly upset; James the Greater looks stunned, with his arms in the air. Meanwhile, Philip appears to be requesting some explanation.
Matthew, Jude Thaddeus and Simon the Zealot are the final group of three. Both Jude Thaddeus and Matthew are turned toward Simon, perhaps to find out if he has any answer to their initial questions.

In common with other depictions of The Last Supper from this period, Leonardo seats the diners on one side of the table, so that none of them have their backs to the viewer. Most previous depictions excluded Judas by placing him alone on the opposite side of the table from the other eleven disciples and Jesus or placing halos around all the disciples except Judas. Leonardo instead has Judas lean back into shadow. Jesus is predicting that his betrayer will take the bread at the same time he does to Saints Thomas and James to his left, who react in horror as Jesus points with his left hand to a piece of bread before them. Distracted by the conversation between John and Peter, Judas reaches for a different piece of bread not noticing Jesus too stretching out with his right hand towards it. (Matthew 26: 23). The angles and lighting draw attention to Jesus, whose head is located at the vanishing point for all perspective lines.

The painting contains several references to the number 3, which represents the Christian belief in the Holy Trinity. The Apostles are seated in groupings of three; there are three windows behind Jesus; and the shape of Jesus' figure resembles a triangle. There may have been other references that have since been lost as the painting deteriorated.