Viewing The Last Supper
We thought it would be appropriate to start our mid-tour Sunday in Milan by seeing Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper. So we got reservations and tickets for the 8:30 showing.
The Last Supper was painted on the wall of the refectory (dining room) of the monastery next door to the church called Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Because it is on a wall, it tends to stay in one place; they don’t take it on world tours. Leonardo used an experimental new technique in making the painting, because he didn’t like the demands of fresco which was commonly used at the time for painting on walls and ceilings in churches. The new technique allowed him much more time to perfect his work, since it was not so quick-drying. Unfortunately, it didn’t have great lasting qualities, so the picture has been in a constant state of decay.
Before they let you into the room for your fifteen minutes with the painting, they put you through a series of intermediate rooms meant to dehumidify you, so you won’t cause any more decay. Then you get your time. Most people crowd to the front right at first, then back off to see the whole. There is a strict limit on the number of people per showing, so the room is not crowded and it’s easy to move around. No photography is allowed.
I was greatly impressed by the expressions on the faces of each of the apostles. That and their body language told a unique story for each man. Which one would I be? The room was hushed and reverential; quite different from our experience visiting the Sistine Chapel a few years ago. I felt like I was in the room with Jesus, and hated to leave.