From Tuesday June 9th the Museo del Cenacolo Vinciano (The Last Supper) will reopen to the public.
One of the most famous and fascinating paintings in the world, much analysed, admired and often the protagonist of books and films, Leonardo da Vinci's Cenacolo (The Last Supper) - a Unesco Heritage site - is located in Milano, in the refectory of the Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Ludovico il Moro, the Duke of Milano, was a patron of the most famous artist of the time, Leonardo da Vinci, and commissioned the unrivalled masterpiece to celebrate the Sforza family’s church and mausoleum. Leonardo was engaged on this work from 1494 to 1497, working contemporaneously on other commissions.
Il Moro provided Leonardo with a house directly in front of Santa Maria delle Grazie, called the Casa degli Atellani, enabling him to reside close to the work in progress. The famous Leonardo's vineyard in the garden behind the house is now open to visitors.
A historic narrative from the Gospel of John unfolds before our eyes, the moment after Christ, seated centrally and surrounded by his apostles, reveals Judas’ betrayal. An intense and precise moment of time as Christ’s closest followers react in different ways; 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 those of Leonardo's time, another sign of modernity.
The mural is extremely fragile and requires meticulous 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 creation 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 in ruined state, nonetheless, the restoration completed in the ‘90s brought the original colours to light.
Seeing The Last Supper is one of the experiences truly not to be missed when visiting Milano. Book your ticket now! If you want to continue your journey in Leonardo’s footsteps in the city, click here for all our suggestions.
- It is said that, in this 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.
- During the bombings of August 1943 The Last Supper was miraculously saved, remaining in the open air for almost two years until the end of the war, covered only by cloths and sandbags.
- Over the centuries the work has been replicated by dozens of artists, comprising contemporary art icons such as Andy Warhol - who depicted 60 Last Suppers in his characteristic pop serial 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’ve placed hamburgers and bottles of beer on the table.
Booking is compulsory for all types of ticket. Entrance to the Last Supper is allowed only on the day and time booked.
Latecomers will not be allowed to make their visit.