StylisticSignificance of the Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci

Leonardoda Vinci was commissioned by Milan’s Duke, Ludovico Sforza, in 1495to create the LastSupperpainting, which he completed in three years. Leonardo’s work markedthe beginning of the Italian High Renaissance era, which was the mostproductive periods in art history. The LastSupperwas custom-made for the Northern wall of a refectory in the monasteryof Santa Maria delle Grazie in Italy (Bambach).Leonardo’s art explores the reactions of the disciples to the newsthat one of them would betray Jesus. The painting captures the twelvedisciples amidst anger, horror, and disbelief, which is a contrastfrom the expansive and calm posture of Jesus (Bambach).

Leonardo’swork employs techniques that indicate the core features of the HighRenaissance art. The scene is portrayed in a rectangular space withtextile on either side of the room and a recessed panel on theceiling. The room ends at the three windows behind the figuresthrough which the viewers can see a beautiful landscape setting.Leonardo created an illusion of depth in the landscape scene bymaking the horizon’s colors dull (Bambach).The figure of Jesus is the dynamic center of the painting. Thus,Christ’s head, arms, and body form a triangle-like shape withseveral figures of the disciples converging around him. Christ’shead symbolizes the vanishing point of all perspective lines, whichblend in with the walls and ceiling (Bambach).Everything flows towards Jesus since he is the source of light in thepainting.

Thestylistic characteristics of the art became significant during theHigh Renaissance period. Leonardo used light and shade to highlightthe detail in positioning and clothing. He also employed differentlevels of shading to illustrate the personality and the significanceof the characters (Bambach).The LastSupperportrayed a new religious theme in art history and demonstrated theconcept of humanism, which could not be achieved using othertechniques. His stylistic features introduced other artists to anincredible work of emotion and proportion in a painting, which wasnot common during the Renaissance era (Bambach).Therefore, the painting was a source of religious teachings, newmedia, advances in the medium, and an understanding of humanbehavior.

Inconclusion, the LastSupper isone the best works of Leonardo and a Renaissance masterpiece, despiteits deterioration and subsequent second-hand restorations. Leonardo’swork builds on the early Renaissance art traditions in aspects ofperspective and composition. The painting corresponds to thecharacteristics of the High Renaissance art, which includessimplicity, nobility, and magnificence in the figures to signifydepth and significance. Consequently, the LastSupperwas a turning point in the history of art that directed artists ontoa new and more realistic path of expression.


Bambach,Carmen. “Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519).” HeilbrunnTimeline of Art HistoryOct. 2002. Web. 13 July 2016.