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Last Supper Elements and Principles of Design

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Leonardo da Vinci was a talented artist of his time. He was publicly known for incorporating the skills of art and science. He had many important works of art such as the Mona Lisa, the study of human proportions according to Vitruvius, The Last Supper and many more. The Last Supper was one of his famous pieces, which to this day is still trying to be restored through millions of dollars and hours of hard work. Leonardo da Vinci was raised in the small town of Vinci.

His mother was a peasant woman named Piero da Vinci. His father who was a lawyer raised him.

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At the young age of 15 he began to apprentice under Andrea del Verocchio. In 1482 Leonardo left for Milan and became an official artist for the Duke. He had several sketches and written records that suggested he was a sculptor. Many of his paintings, which are small in number, are unfinished which is largely due to his impatient manner of switching from one subject to another.

The Last Supper is known as the symbol of western art. The Last Supper is located on the wall of the refectory in the Dominican Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

Leonardo was developing the ideas for The Last Supper for over 15 years. He began this work in 1495 and finished three years later, in 1497. This was one piece that Leonardo was completely dedicated to; he would work on this piece from the beginning of the day until dusk. Matteo Bandello remarked on his style of working, ” He would often come to the convent at early dawn”¦ hastily mounting the scaffolding, he worked diligently till the shades of evening compelled him to cease, never thinking of food at all, so absorbed was he in his work. ? Leonardo da Vinci became known as the “man of the renaissance,”? due to his style of work and many of his pieces. The Last Supper depicts the final gathering of Jesus Christ with his disciples on the eve of the institution of the Holy Eucharist. This will be the last meal in which they share before Christ is tried and crucified.

The exact moment that is being captured is when Christ tells that one of his follows will betray him. Within the work, each disciple reacts to Christ’s comment the same, puzzled, confused and shocked. One is drinking and has is head turned to the speaker. Another twists his finger while others make a mouth of astonishment. St. Andrew has his shoulders shrugged in dismay while St. Philip rises from his seat and catches the eye because his head is a little higher than the rest. St. James is staring down in absolute shock to the news that he just heard. However, Judas knows that he is the one and is seen with his bag of silver, his payment for being a traitor. His body is arched away from Christ. He reaction is different from the other apostles; he has a distant expression on his face.

Judas has a darker value than the others. The objects that Judas holds in his hand, a knife and his moneybag, symbolize pure evil. Leonardo places them in a large banquet hall. All of the disciples are leaning towards and facing Christ, except Judas who is shamefully leaning away. In many other works on the Last Supper, Judas is seen on the other side of the table because he is not worthy of sitting on the same side as Christ. Leonardo did this different by putting him on the side with Christ. The effect from this is strong, and shows how much more of a traitor Judas is towards Christ.

The Last Supper is a Fresco, which is when colors are applied to a wet plaster, which bonds the image with the painting surface. However, Leonardo wanted to try something different and decided to use oil paint and egg, a method known as tempera, instead. This substance is less absorbent with water and therefore did not hold to the plaster as well as normal frescos would. This resulted in many years of restoration and millions of dollars spent to preserve this wonderful work of art. Leonardo used a mixture of pitch and mastic.

He painted with softly melancholy tones with shadows, which is a technique known as chiaroscuro. He used a technique of dividing the section of the wall into squares and then painted on them briskly. Leonardo added drawings on top of the previous drawings in order to make his work perfection. The painting has five sections, which each has two groups of three people on each side of Christ, which forms an imaginary triangle in the center of the painting. His head becomes the pinnacle of the triangle which each of his arms spreading out on each side forming the legs of the triangle.

Finally the table connects the whole triangle together. The Last Supper is filled with many visual elements and principles of design that truly unify the painting as a one of a kind masterpiece. The painting is representational art, which contains realistic and naturalistic figures. The perspective is drawn carefully in the banquet hall. The lines on the left and right hand side of the walls are drawn towards Christ’s head, which are directional lines. Viewers tend to focus towards the center and if possible the persons’ face. Within The Last Supper, the focal point is drawn to Christ’s head.

There is a window located behind Christ that puts more emphasis on him. The window, which is drawn open, creates a holy and halo effect around his head. Each apostle is placed behind a table, however the outlines of the bodies create their own private space, which is outline and form. Because of the characters expressions, motions of the head, arms and fingers, the viewers emotionally feel the work of art. Depth is perceived for Christ through shading and modeling. The fields in the background being blurry create this, which is a form of atmospheric perspective. This also emphasizes Christ as the Focal point.

The light is dramatized in the painting by the open window allowing light to enter. A holy like appearance is seen because the table is a dark image and light shins on the apostles. The color scheme is polychromatic which is more than one color plus black and white. There are blues, reds, and greens however mostly brown and whites are shown here. Time and motion is also included. This scene takes place the night before Christ is crucified; the characters are placed in constant motion. Due to the use of material and the addition of tempera paint to the fresco, the piece has slowly begun to deteriorate.

For half of a millennium The Last Supper suffered many unfortunate incidents such as Napoleon’s troops defaced the mural, an allied bomb destroyed the ceiling and an adjacent wall of the Milan monastery. Many believe that the worst damage that has happen to it is due to the overzealous restorers. After 21 years and over eight million dollars of restoration many believed that the piece is ruined. Even before the restoration began, only about half of what Leonardo originally painted remained. In 1726 there was a complete repainting of three figures.

This piece was restored at least seven different times. Through the restoration much of it lost details, such as the vivid facial expressions, shiny glassware on the table and the landscape in the background. Pinin Brambilla is an Italian restorer who stated, ” What emerged is what was left of Leonardo, it was a masterpiece. “? Conservators attempted to get the work as close as possible to its original state. For the last 20 years Brambilla has presided over one of the most meticulous works of art. Restoring such a wonderful piece is very controversial.

The Last Supper lost many of its original characteristics; however it began deteriorating only years after the completion. In order for this piece not to be lost forever restoration was the only answer. The Last Supper is an amazing masterpiece. Leonardo froze the exact moment in time, where Christ says, “one of you shall betray me. “? It portrays an amazing story and no other artist other than Leonardo da Vinci was capable of creating such a strong and emotional piece. It’s story is told vividly and precisely while using many visual elements and principles of design. The Last Supper is truly a masterpiece.

Cite this Last Supper Elements and Principles of Design

Last Supper Elements and Principles of Design. (2017, Feb 14). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/last-supper-elements-and-principles-of-design/

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