The Last Supper : Learn composition from Leonardo Davinci

The Last Supper by Leonardo - My Take

It's useful for all visual artists to study old masters. Here, I tell you what I learnt from Leonardo's Last Supper. Not given to wild, wacky theories of conspiracy, I will just confine my comments to the area of art. And try to understand the master painter's composition.

(If you want to watch a video instead of reading this hub, it's there above. But I warn you, my voice is horrible!)

Please click on the images at the right to view them big enough. Here goes:

The Last Supper - Leonardo Da Vinci
The Last Supper - Leonardo Da Vinci
The grouping of threes
The grouping of threes
Perspective lines lead to Christ.
Perspective lines lead to Christ.
A picture of Stability.
A picture of Stability.

Placement Tricks

1. The Position of Jesus

Jesus is placed right at the centre of the picture. Naturally your eye will fall on the central figure. He is also framed by the window to form a separate portrait within the painting. He is clearly separated from the apostles by grouping them in threes, while He is self-contained.

2. Chaos and Order

Utter confusion results when He says, "One of you shall betray me." Now, the painter has to show the confusion while maintaining order in the composition. What did Leonardo do? Each disciple has a dynamic pose, an attitude of inbalance, but each is a part of a group of three in tight composition. See for yourself.

Another secret that I noticed, that I haven't heard anyone mention, is the zooming in to Christ. It's like one of those photos you see where the zoom causes everything to be blurred, but the central figure. The lines of the beams in the ceiling, the lines of the murals on the walls, all zoom to Christ. Everything else is dynamic, while the Christ is peacefully still.

3. The Triangle of Christ

A triangle gives a subliminal effect of stability. It's like a pyramid or a cone. Here, Jesus forms a triangle, while the disciples form high-tension shapes.

4. What, No Halo?

Why didn't Leonardo draw a halo around Jesus? He did even better. He made it look realistic; there's nothing unreal in this picture. He placed the sun behind Christ's head.

Also, the vanishing point of the perspective lines in this picture is also behind Christ's head. Wherever your glance falls in the pictuire, it will be directed to Him. The perspective lines, some of the arrow like hands, glances of the others, all direct you to Him. Some spiritual message there? God knows.

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Comments 30 comments

VioletSun profile image

VioletSun 8 years ago from Oregon/ Name: Marie

I have never looked at art this way; you made me realize that placing the sun in back of Jesus head gave a sacred touch to the image of Jesus, among other details I wouldn't have paid attention to. Thank you for this hub and awakening the creative side of us with your other hubs. Do you teach art? If not, you would be a wonderful teacher!


Iðunn 8 years ago

I love this painting for many reasons. I'm delighted you hubbed it and I'm delighted to see it from a real artist's perspective.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Thank you, kind friends!

Violet, I'm hoping that everyone would start looking at paintings 

from different angles, and thus find new ways to appreciate them. Yes, I teach, off and on. Hub pages help me reach out to more people, and that is very gratifying.

Iðunn, I'm delighted at your delight. 

I'm encouraged to more hubs like these now! 

 


Iðunn 8 years ago

oh! please do!


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Surely, O Great Muse!


Iðunn 8 years ago

you are too kind. really. hehe. but if I might dare, could I put in requests off and on? my first... could you do "flaming june"?


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

It's more rewarding to do requests. Atleast I'll get one committed view and comment, hehe! Please do request more, while I do 'Flaming June.' Thanks a heap, Iðunn!


Iðunn 8 years ago

you are really thoughtful. :)

I might have lots of things I'd love to see from your perspective. (subtle warning) :p I shall try to stick with the true Masters though, when I make future requests since that was your stated direction.

and... thank you!


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

No, no, please feel free to suggest any you like; good for my education, too.


AuraGem profile image

AuraGem 8 years ago from Victoria, Australia

Great hub! This painting has long been one of my favourites! But your hub made me return to it yet again and look at the more subtle technicalities - its working innards! Illuminating!

Smiles and Light


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Smiles and Light, Gemma! There's, of course, much more to this than what I showed here, but wasn't sure if I would bore my friends. And made a short hub.

Thank you!


compu-smart profile image

compu-smart 8 years ago from London UK

Kenny, im not the religious type,but you always seem to make your hubs an interesting read..

:)


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Ah, thanks, Compu-smart. Once I was an atheist, but I still loved this painting! :)


thooghun profile image

thooghun 8 years ago from Rome, Italy

Fantastic hub Kenny. Wonderful insight and tips! I, as has been previously stated, have never really contemplated that which made (or a part of) this piece of art so excellent.

You wouldn't happen to have Caravaggio lined up :P?

I'd love an overview of one of his paintings (they make me all tingly inside)


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Thanks for the appreciation, Thooghun! And many more for the request, Fine, Caravaggio next! Keep coming with those requests!


C.M. Vanderlinden profile image

C.M. Vanderlinden 8 years ago from Metro Detroit

Another outstanding hub, Kenny! Any chance of seeing some of the work of one of my favorites, Artemisia Gentileschi?


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Sure, Colleen!

Will do her 'Judith and her Maidservant.' I have two more requests in queue, but will surely do it after that. And thank you!


C.M. Vanderlinden profile image

C.M. Vanderlinden 8 years ago from Metro Detroit

I will look forward to it (as well as your others!) 'Judith and Her Maidservant' is one of my favorites. Thank you!


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Please do, won't fail you! :)


In The Doghouse profile image

In The Doghouse 8 years ago from California

Kenny

Awesome observations. I remember going to the little chapel in Italy to see the original painting, it was such a sacred experience. I especially love how you pointed out that all lines lead to Christ, who is the center. The light that is reflected from the sun in the window also reminds me that he is the Son of God. Isn't classic art fantastic? Thank you again.


moonlake profile image

moonlake 8 years ago from America

Thanks for stopping by my Hub. Enjoyed your Hubs. Have a great day.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Thanks, In the Doghouse; how do I address you? Gimme some name. You are lucky; I haven't seen the original!

Moonlake, I enjoyed your yard greatly!


ripplemaker profile image

ripplemaker 8 years ago from Cebu, Philippines

Okay, I'm now traveling through the ART hubs Kenny. LOL And this is a good place to stop and learn. Artists are indeed intelligent as well as perceptive. And if they are able to make the people who are watching the painting "feel" then they have (in my humble opinion) have succeeded far beyond anything. :) I like that...Christ peacefully still. He brings that peace to me esp. when I need it. :) Thanks Kenny.


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 8 years ago from Chennai Author

Just what I believe: Art is art only when it moves someone.

Peace be with you, Michelle.


Anna  7 years ago

the Numerical tradition that is exploited by Leonardo da Vinci to make the divisions of this composition not only immediately significant to his audience, but also to create mathematical order out of the dramatic confusion of the Disciples


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 7 years ago from Chennai Author

Yes, Anna. :)


mhuze profile image

mhuze 6 years ago from USA

Wow! I love this painting. You pointed some things out I had never noticed before. Very interesting!


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 6 years ago from Chennai Author

I'm happy to have done that, Mhuze, thank you! :)


ken 4 years ago

wow! can u add more?


Kenny Wordsmith profile image

Kenny Wordsmith 4 years ago from Chennai Author

will do, Ken, thank you. :)

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