Booking is compulsory for all types of tickets.
One of the world’s most famous and fascinating paintings - much analysed, admired and often the subject of books and films - Leonardo da Vinci's Cenacolo (The Last Supper) is located in Milano, in the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. It is one of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites.
Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milano, was the patron of the most famous artist of that time, Leonardo da Vinci, and in order to celebrate the church and mausoleum of the Sforza family, he commissioned what was to become an unrivalled masterpiece. Leonardo was engaged in this work from 1494 to 1497, working on other commissions at the same time.
Il Moro provided Leonardo with a patch of land just across the road from Santa Maria delle Grazie, close to the work in progress. It became Leonardo's famous vineyard, now the garden behind Casa degli Atellani, open to visitors.
The historic narrative from the Gospel of John unfolds before our eyes: the moment after Christ, seated at the centre and surrounded by his apostles, reveals Judas’ betrayal. An intense and precise moment in time shows the different reactions of Christ’s followers: some arise as others approach the supper table.
Their movements and expressions are magnificently captured in Leonardo’s work as amazement, dismay and chaos revolve around the perfection and solemnity of Christ.
Leonardo’s use of perspective, with Christ at the centre, creates the illusion that the refectory is an extension of the painting, inviting the viewer to participate in the event. The utensils and table linen depicted are the real ones of Leonardo's time, another sign of modernity.
The mural painting is extremely fragile and requires meticulous care in conservation: for this reason, visits are limited and must be booked well in advance.
As well as experimenting with the representation of the scene, Leonardo also experimented with the painting method: he shunned the fresco technique (the most commonly used for wall paintings) in favour of mixed tempera on plaster. However, his work immediately showed signs of deterioration and already seventy years after its completion it was severely damaged: nonetheless, the restoration carried out in the ‘90s brought the original colours back to light.
Seeing The Last Supper is one of the experiences that will really define your visit to Milano. Book your ticket as soon as possible! If you want to continue your journey around the city in Leonardo’s footsteps, click here for all our suggestions.
- It is said that in his masterpiece Leonardo da Vinci painted Judas Thaddeus in his own likeness.
- When the French conquered Milano, Napoleon turned this refectory into a stable for his horses, regardless of the artwork on the wall.
- During the bombings of August 1943, The Last Supper was miraculously saved, remaining unsheltered in the open air for almost two years, covered by cloths and sandbags only, until the end of the war.
- Over the centuries the work has been replicated by dozens of artists, including contemporary art icons such as Andy Warhol - who depicted 60 Last Suppers in his characteristic pop serial way of representation - and the irreverent photographer David LaChapelle, who reinterpreted the religious scene in the Jesus is my homeboy series in which Christ has a tattooed neck and the apostles are depicted as gang members who have placed hamburgers and bottles of beer on the table.
Booking is necessary for all tickets. Entrance to the Last Supper is allowed only on the day and time booked.
Latecomers will not be able to access the Cenacolo.