Da Vinci: The Last Supper

 This famous fresco is painted on a wall of the refectory of St. Mary's of Grace Church in Milan. Leonardo was unhappy with traditional fresco techniques, and experimented with an oil-tempura medium that did not adhere properly to the wall. By 1517, the painting had begun to deteriorate. The painting is a brilliant psychological study of the reaction of the disciples just when Christ has told them, "One of you shall betray me." Judas is to Christ's right, grasping a money bag, and defiantly reaching for the bread on the table. Other artists placed Judas on the opposite side of the table from the disciples. Placing him with the others emphasizes his common humanity with the others, all of whom are asking, "Lord, is it I?" The painting demonstrates Leonardo's skill at geometric and psychological composition. The disciples are clustered in four groups of three with the eyes of most focused on Christ in the exact center. The architectural lines draw one first to Christ and then to the reaction of the disciples. Judas appears shadowy, while the faces of the other disciples are lighted. He is one of them, yet different; not worthy to partake of the Eucharist. There is some argument that Leonardo's face is that of one of the disciples.