Leonardo da Vinci and Donato Bramante in Santa Maria delle Grazie.
Museum hours: 8:30 - 18:30
Duration: 1 hour
Availability: Tue - Sun
Meeting time: on request
Only 400 visitors are allowed each day to see the Last Supper famous fresco. If you want to include The Last Supper in your tour it is highly recommended to book the tour at least 6 -10 weeks in advance. From Spring till mid Fall you have to book your tour more than 10 weeks in advance.
In the15th century under the rule of the powerful Sforza family, Milan became
one of the richest and most beautiful cities in Europe.
Duke Ludovico Sforza, "il Moro", engaged two of the greatest Florentine artists: painter Leonardo da
Vinci and architect Donato Bramante to embellish his court. Bramante was also asked to convert
the Dominican church Santa Maria delle Grazie, designed by Solari in 1468 in Lombard Gothic style, into
a mausoleum for the Sforza family.
The piazza (square) in front of the church is the starting point of our tour. The beautiful Renaissance marble porch supported
by two Corinthian columns and the lunette are the results of Bramante's redesign of Solari's Gothic doorway .
The sides of the polygonal apse are also of interest, but only when we enter the church do we see
the magnificent masterpiece of Bramante's skills and intelect. He transformed the pedestrian Gothic
Dominican church into a unique, harmonic blend of Gothic and Renaissance styles.
In the square outside the church a door leads to the cloister's
refectory. This is the place where Leonardo painted his world-famous "Last Supper" a
startling masterpiece which highlights all his skills in painting, science, and psychology.
In the Last Supper he chose to portray the moment from the Gospels in which Jesus tells his discipels that one of
them is about to betray him. Jesus' half-closed lips and amazement in facial expressions and body
language of his Apostles after the words “One of you will betray me” are clear example of Leonardo's
outstanding knowledge of human psychology.
Leonardo spent three years painting the work, and much of that time was spent searching the streets of Milan for models of Christ and Judas. It is said that only Leonardo's threats to paint the Prior of the convent as Judas bought him the time he needed to finish.
His lack of good training in “fresco” technique caused him to make a poor choice of painting materials. This, along with the humid conditions in the convent, meant that the painting began deteriorating still during his life time. The refectory has also been flooded, used as a stable, and hit by a bomb during the Second World War. Only a number of carefully placed sandbags saved this masterpiece from total destruction.
There have been many attempts to restore The Last Supper, most of which have done more harm than good. A full restoration was recently completed took ... twenty years.