Leonardo and the Last Supper Kindle ´ and the Last
Early in , Leonardo da Vinci began work in Milan on what would become one of history's most influential and beloved works of artThe Last Supper After a dozen years at the court of Lodovico Sforza, the Duke of Milan, Leonardo was at a low point personally and professionally: at fortythree, in an era when he had almost reached the average life expectancy, he had failed, despite a number of prestigious commissions, to complete anything that truly fulfilled his astonishing promise His latest failure was a giant bronze horse to honor Sforza's father: Histons of bronze had been expropriated to be turned into cannons to help repel a French invasion of Italy The commission to paint The Last Supper in the refectory of a Dominican convent was a small compensation, and his odds of completing it were not promising: Not only had he never worked on a painting of such a large size' high x ' widebut he had no experience in the extremely difficult medium of fresco In his compelling new book, Ross King explores howamid war and the political and religious turmoil around him, and beset by his own insecurities and frustrationsLeonardo created the masterpiece that would forever define him King unveils dozens of stories that are embedded in the painting Examining who served as the models for the Apostles, he makes a unique claim: that Leonardo modeled two of them on himself Reviewing Leonardo's religious beliefs, King paints a much complex picture than the received wisdom that he was a heretic The food that Leonardo, a vegetarian, placed on the table reveals as much as do the numerous hand gestures of those at Christ's banquet As King explains, many of the myths that have grown up around The Last Supper are wrong, but its true story is ever interesting Bringing to life a fascinating period in European history, Ross King presents an original portrait of one of the world's greatest geniuses through the lens of his most famous work (view spoiler)[ Bettie's Books (hide spoiler)] From BBC Radio 4:Leonardo and the Last Supper tells the fascinating story of what went on behind the scenes when Leonardo da Vinci was commissioned to paint what became one of history's greatest masterpieces. 3½ starsOne of the major events in the Passion of Christ is his last meal with his disciples He prepares them for his departure, institutes the Eucharist, and identifies Judas as his betrayer.During puberty, I usually ate supper looking at a print of Leonardo’s The Last Supper on the opposite wall, so I can attest that for me any mention of Christ’s last meal will always project an image of Leonardo’s painting, as it undoubtedly has for many millions of others in the last five centuries It is a tribute to Leonardo’s genius that the memory of his painting is brighter than the sad remnants left of his masterpiece.For me, the best aspect of this book is how the painting is placed in the historical context how it came to be commissioned in that specific location, why Leonardo was assigned to paint it, and why he choose to paint it in that manner There are some interesting digressions on Leonardo’s character, his aspirations, his sexual orientation and the milieu; but we are always brought back to the why and the how of the painting Finally, we are told of the tragedy of Leonardo’s fate at the moment when he has finally completed an acknowledged masterpiece. Long, long ago, lost in the vastness of time, when I was around twelve or thirteen, I bought my first art book It was a Pelican paperback costing six shillings (a small fortune back then), a biography of Leonardo da Vinci by Kenneth Clark I am assuming that I knew who da Vinci was, back then, but it isthan likely that I was attracted (as so often) by the cover which depicted a wonderful, fine line drawing of a sternlooking man wearing a fantastical helmet I doubt I ever read the book, I wasattracted by the illustrations, especially the drawings of fantastical torrents of water, beautiful delicate drawings of angelic faces, superb drawings of hands I draw, I love drawing, this appealed to me then and still does.Leonardo became my chief of men as far as artists go He has never been supplanted though he has been joined by so many in my pantheon When I came across this book by Ross King, I genuinely thought it would be just about the painting of The Last Supper, that infamous mural in Milan, better known for its decayed state and the many copies it has inspired It therefore came as both a surprise, and a pleasure, to discover that Ross King was using the story behind that painting to introduce us to the life and times of Leonardo and how well he has done it.The book is a very easy read, full of fascinating facts and anecdotes It reveals the genius of a man who was not obsessed by art but, rather, an individual obsessed by the world; anatomy, nature, inventions It is impossible to go away, having read this book, without being full of admiration for his achievements and his failures Leonardo is a man after my own heart; obsessed, leaping from one project to another, neither one thing nor the other Yet, as someone who produces art he also rings familiar chords; obsessions with specific, not necessarily achievable projects; his, at times, reluctance to grab the bull by the horns and get on with it When he is observed, sometimes working almost frenetically on his mural, nonstop, no pause, then at other times just standing there before it, just staring I recognise a kindred spirit.Wonderful book. Leonardo Di Vinci's reluctance to paint the walls of the Santa Maria delle Grazie is reminiscent of Michelangelo's reluctance to paint the paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel which is brought to life by Ross King in his earlier work, Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling This new book tells the circumstances that brought Di Vinci to this project, his life while working on it, its technical and artistic considerations, how the changing political situation in Italy both helped and hindered the project, and the after life of Di Vinci, his painting and his patron.Di Vinci was a man of many talents He designed in such varied fields such as military weapons, sculpture, architecture, mathematics texts, aviation, theater sets, costumes and wedding attire He had never before, produced a fresco Obtaining and preparing materials was a big job as was the physical work of the surface and applying the fresco Di Vinci eventually abandoned fresco for oil tempura and Ross similarly details the 15th century problems of its procurement and preparation and the choices of oils and pigments an artists had to make He also tells of the 16th century forward problems in preservation and the solutions which have become increasing sophisticated.Duke of Milan, Lodovico Sforza, wanted the Santa Maria delle Grazie to showcase the glory of his family Di Vinci's work would be one of the adornments, along with other frescoes including family portraits as was common at the time Di Vinci's earlier assignment had been to honor the Sforza's with a giant bronze equestrian statute commemorating Lodovico's father (who had seized control of Milan for the family) When the bronze was needed to build cannon, and the project was scraped and decorations to the Santa Maria delle Grazie would now suffice.One of the many interesting things I learned is that 'The' Last Supper, at its time, was 'A' Last Supper since it was a popular motif in Italy Ross shows how Di Vinci took this motif to a whole new level, essentially ushering in the modern age (high Renaissance) of art He used the (then) new technique of perspective to balance out his painting There is a lot of background on Di Vinci's search for just the right faces and their attitudes His famous Notebooks are full of studies of noses, fingers, and faces Every element of the painting is meaningful from the spilled salt to Thomas' upward pointing finger.Ross weighs in on the premise of the Di Vinci Code: the long haired person next to Jesus is the apostle John and not Mary Magdalene On p 191 there is a reproduction of a Di Vinci painting of John the Baptist, (with a strange resemblance to Mona Lisa) demonstrating (noted elsewhere in the book) that Di Vinci did feminize male portraits He also notes, Montorfano's Crucifixion, painted on the wall opposite The Last Supper portrays John as a mirror image (p.228) of Di Vinci's John.The writing in this book is good throughout, but page turning writing comes and goes The Epilogue is particularly strong It is Ross at his best, as he describes the conditions of Di Vinci and Sforza's last days, and the many restorations of Di Vinci's great work. I read a review by one of my friends on Goodreads thought it interesting so read the book Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” is shrouded in mystery and controversy for which Ross King has attempted to settle some of the mysteries regarding the painting “The Last Supper” is in the former refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan It was Da Vinci’s largest painting; he painted it with oils on one of the refectory walls Between the damp walls, Napoleon’s soldiers using the refectory as a stable, the RAF bombing in WWII which left it exposed to the elements for months and many other unrecorded damaging events to the painting we are lucky it still exists today In attempting to settle some of the controversies about the painting Ross goes into great detail on how Da Vinci painted the scenes I was interested in his comments about Dan Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code” and other comments he revealed the truth about from Brown’s book In brown’s book he claimed the figure sitting on Jesus’ right is Mary Magdalene, Ross goes into great discourse proving the figure is actually John Ross also explains that Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” was different from other such past paintings because Da Vinci had expressive faces on the apostles and great life like detail of plates of food and even pleats on the tablecloth I found the book most fascinating, sort of like reading a mystery story I read this as an audio book Mark Meadows did a good job narrating the book If you are interested in history or art history you will enjoy this book. The brilliant Ross King is at it again No one does readable art history for the masses better This time he takes on Leonardo DaVinci and the painting of the Last Supper King doesn't truck in hype and rumor, this is the real story covering everything from his treatment of drawing hands to the food portrayed He is a careful and scrupulous writer and his Leonardo is full of lesser known tidbits and humanizing facts King's books aren't always the easiest to read but they are always worth the effort. I like Ross King I really enjoyed 2.5 stars.I have lots of conflicting feelings about this book The writing was good throughout The parts about the gospels were excellent The discussions about symbolism were all quite good The science of 15th century painting was interesting The many parts unrelated to The Last Supper were hard for me to get through (Lodovico Sforza, King Charles VIII of France and so many others that contributed nothing to the story) The vague references about Leonardo's possible homosexuality were unnecessary and contributed nothing to the story The vague suggestion that Leonardo may have been a pederast was annoying and unsubstantiated and contributed nothing to the story The parts that debunked Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code were so annoying (Is it really necessary to debunk that book? Just read the friggin' thing and see how preposterous it is on its face.)Perhaps my problem with the book is of my own making I came to read it based on two other books by the author that I really enjoyed (Brunelleschi's Dome and Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling) and I thought it would focus on the creation of The Last Supper It mostly did but the gratuitous distractions made me wish I read a different book on the subject instead.