Guest Post by Hadley

I have to admit: I think biblical and religious art is boring. Okay, boring may be harsh; I prefer other genres of art. I don’t know many gospels or saints, so when I look at a painting the only allegory I know is that Saint Peter will be holding the keys. I appreciate the talent and skill that goes into a 15th century painting, but I prefer a piece of art that would manipulate the theoretical aspects of my mind rather than test my knowledge of Mary Magdalene. But then again, to some all of this religious art can be theoretical… I digress.

the last supper in milan
Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

Spending a year and a half in Europe I saw a lot of art. If you’ve been keeping up with Travel Freak, you may know I went to Italy. One of the pit stops on our trip around the country was Milan, perhaps one of my favorite cities in Europe. I would consider finding a suave Italian man and living in Milan and never coming back. The city is so chic, chicer than — dare I say it? — Paris. Everyone is put together, dressed wonderfully, and enjoying life — I’m convinced French women don’t smile to avoid wrinkles, but the Milanese definitely have a one-up on activeness and happiness. Milan isn’t as touristy as Rome or Venice and offers the best Italy has to offer in terms of art: it is also home to the one of the — if not the — most famous piece of art in the world.

I’m studying to receive my minor in the history of art and architecture, so despite my lack of enthusiasm for religious art, I was excited to learn that The Last Supper is in situ (that means it’s still in its original location for all you non-arties) at the Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Leonardo Da Vinci created the mural at the end of the 15th century for Duke Ludovico Sforza, and as many of you know it documents when Jesus announced that one of the twelve disciples would betray him. The reactions from each of his twelve apostles display a different emotion with immense detail.

Unfortunately The Last Supper is in constant decay as da Vinci painted it on a dry wall with oil paint instead of wet plaster. Because of the medium, almost as soon as the painting was completed it began to deteriorate.  Ironically, however,  the church was bombed during WWII and the only wall left held Da Vinci’s masterpiece.

I entered the Santa Maria delle Grazie and waited in a small breezeway for about 20 minutes, then was taken with about nine other people to the dimly lit dining hall which holds the legendary painting. There is no denying that it is incredible. In fact, there are really no words to describe it. You are standing in front of something so extraordinary that it moves you to a point of chills. Surprisingly, I remember wanting to cry a bit when I saw it, even though artwork of this type rarely garners such a response out of me.

Who knows if another religious painting will make me feel the same as I did standing before The Last Supper in Milan, but based on my experience in that quiet, dim room, I’m sure it will stir something inside of you as well.

Photo courtesy of Rafa via Flickr


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