Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper'
- Story Of A Face
From Robert Hampton <>
The story behind painting of the Last Supper is extremely interesting and instructive. Two incidents connected with this painting afford a most convincing lesson on the effects of sin in our lives.
As you know, the Last Supper was painted by Leonard Da Vinci, a noted Italian artist. The time engaged for its completion was seven years. The figures representing the twelve apostles and Christ himself were painted from living persons. The live model for the painting of the figure of Jesus was chosen first. When it was decided that Da Vinci would paint this great picture, hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed in an endeavor to find a face and personality of unaffected by sin.
Finally, after weeks of laborious searching a young man, nineteen years of age, was selected as the model for the portrayal of Christ. For six months Da Vinci worked on the production of this leading character of the famous painting. During the next six years Da Vinci continued his labors on his sublime work of art. One by one, fitting persons were chosen to represent each of the eleven apostles, space being left for the painting of the figure representing Judas Iscariot as the final task of this masterpiece.
This was the apostle, you remember, who betrayed his Lord for thirty pieces of silver, worth $16.95, in our present day currency. For weeks Da Vinci searched for a man with hard calloused face, with a countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, who would betray his best friend. After many discouraging experiences in searching for the type of person required to represent Judas, word came to Da Vinci that a man whose appearance fully met the requirements had been found. He was in a dungeon in Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder.
Da Vinci made the trip to Rome at once, and this man was brought out from his imprisonment in the dungeon and led out into the light of the sun. There Da Vinci saw before him a dark, swarthy man, his long shaggy and unkempt hair sprawled over his face, a face which portrayed a character of viciousness and complete ruin. At last the painter had found the person he wanted to represent the character of Judas in his painting.
By special permission from the king, this prisoner was carried to Milan where the fresco was being painted. For six months the prisoner sat before Da Vinci, at appointed hours each day, as the gifted artist diligently continued his task of transmitting to his painting this base character in the picture representing the betrayer of the Savior.
As he finished his last stroke, he turned to the guards and said, "I have finished, you may take the prisoner away." The prisoner suddenly broke loose from their control and rushed up to Da Vinci, crying as he did so, "Oh, Da Vinci, look at me! Do you not know who I am?" Da Vinci, with the trained eyes of a great character student, carefully scrutinized the man upon whose face he had constantly gazed for six months and replied, "No, I have never seen you in my life until you were brought before me out of the dungeon in Rome."
Then lifting his eyes toward heaven, the prisoner said, "O God, have I fallen so low?" Then turning his face to the painter he cried, "Leonardo Da Vinci, look at me again, for I am the same man you painted just seven years ago as the figure of Christ!
This true story of the painting of the Last Supper teaches so strongly the lesson of the effects of right and wrong actions of an individual. He was a young man whose character was so pure and unspoiled by the sins of the world, that he represented a countenance and innocence and beauty fit to be used for the painting of a presentation of Christ. But over a period of only seven years filled with sin and crime, he was changed into a perfect picture of the most notorious character ever known in the history of the world.
What kind of picture are you painting today?


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