Santa Maria delle Grazie is one of the most beautiful churches in Italy. It was first built in the 15th century in the late Gothic style and was rebuilt from 1492 by Bramante (1444-1514) in the Renaissance style. The highlight of the church is the fresco “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519). It is considered to be one of the greatest masterpieces in art history and captures the moment when Jesus spoke the words: “One of you will betray me”.
Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan: facts
|Official title:||Church and Dominican convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie with Leonardo da Vinci’s »Last Supper« in Milan|
|Cultural monument:||Church and Dominican Convention; important architect in the redesign of the sacred building Donato d’Angelo Bramante (1444-1514); Refectory with the famous painting “The Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci, introducing a new era in the visual arts|
|Meaning:||a masterpiece of construction and fine arts|
Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan: history
|1463||Foundation of the church and convent by Count Gaspare da Vimercate|
|1466-90||Building the church|
|1466-69||Construction of the convent|
|1492||Demolition of the choir and the transept for the new construction of a central building according to plans by Bramante|
|1495-97||Leonardo da Vincis (1452-1519) “The Last Supper”|
|1998||Completion of the last restoration of the »Last Supper«|
“A restored ruin”
“A restored ruin” is how the Parisian art historian André Chastel described the “Last Supper” by Leonardo da Vinci in the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie monastery in Milan. The fascination that emanates from this masterpiece by the universal genius Leonardo da Vinci is unbroken, regardless of the eight restorations that have been documented over the centuries. This masterpiece of Western art, which was created at the end of the 15th century, was haunted by calamity from the start. Leonardo painted the painting in oil tempera, a technique that was still untested at the time and which was ultimately responsible for the fact that moisture and dust soon caused severe damage.
Giorgio Vasari, whose famous biography of Italian artists was published for the first time in 1550, describes the obvious damage. Vasari also wrote the most apt description of this picture, which he was still able to admire in all its beauty despite the beginning of decay: “For the Dominican monks in Santa Maria delle Grazie, Leonardo painted a Last Supper of rare and wonderful excellence. He gave so much majesty and beauty to the heads of the apostles that he left the head of the Savior unsuccessful, convinced that he could not bestow on him the divinity necessary for an image of Christ. The work remained as if it had been completed, and has always been highly revered by the Milanese as well as by strangers, considering that Leonardo had succeeded in expressing the anxious concern that has gripped the hearts of the apostles and makes them want to know who betrayed their master. Love, fear and anger or even pain speak from the faces of all that they cannot understand the courage of Christ, and this is no less astonishing than the defiance, hatred and betrayal that one recognizes in Judas. why Leonardo rejected the institution of the Eucharist as the obvious theme of the painting and instead represented the betrayal expressed in the words of Jesus: “Truly I tell you, one of you will betray me.”
There are a number of stories surrounding the creation of the picture. The prior of the monastery is said to have complained to Duke Ludovico, who commissioned the painting, that the faces of Christ and Judas had been unfinished for months, that the artist did not make a real effort, and that he was sometimes lost half a day in thought. The Duke summoned Leonardo, who explained to him that sublime spirits sometimes create the most when they work the least, namely when they invent and develop perfect ideas, which the hands then express and represent according to what has already been seen in the spirit. Besides, for more than a year he has been going among the outcasts and criminals in order to choose a face that suits Judas. If necessary, however, he would use that of the prior as a model.
The German Schöngeist Johann Wolfgang von Goethe also gives a great description of the Lord’s Supper, in which he also answers what Leonardo was mainly doing to animate this picture: “It is the movement of the hands. But this could only be found by an Italian. According to areacodesexplorer, with his nation the whole body is witty, all limbs participate in every expression of feeling, passion, yes, thought. “The Lord’s Supper is one of the few more than ten, partly unfinished works that Leonardo left behind as a painter. Nevertheless, the importance of Leonardo da Vinci is enormous and his personality is still not fully understood, just as his extensive written legacy has not yet been fully explored. But like so many geniuses, Leonardo also had to fight for his wages. In a letter to the Duke of Milan he complained that his fee had not been paid for two years. “I would love to create immortal works and prove to posterity that I have lived, but I am forced to earn a living.”