Ten Facts About DaVinci’s Last Supper on Maundy Thursday

Every year on this day I wake up thinking about this painting. I’ve never seen it in person (bucket list), but I’ve known about it nearly my entire life. A copy of it was framed and hung in the second and third-grade Sunday School room in the tiny little Southern Baptist Church my family. When I was too bored or distracted to pay attention to the lesson I’d stare at this picture. It fascinates me.

Maundy Thursday is rooted in Jesus’s teaching from John 13, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

In Jerome’s Latin Vulgate bible, the word for this new command is mandato… same word from which we get mandate. It’s also thought to be the origins of the name Maundy. There is a new mandate signified two ways in the four gospels: the redefinition of the Passover meal as Eucharist, and the washing of feet as a symbol of how the new community works.

I’ll think about this picture all day long, and stare at it from time to time. Here are just a few bits of trivia… see how many out of the ten you get right.

10 Facts about DaVinci’s Last Supper:

  1. Why did DaVinci choose this subject matter for his painting?
  2. How big is it?
  3. Where is the painting located?
  4. How long did it take and when was it finished?
  5. Who is Jesus sharing a meal with in this picture?
  6. Can you name those seated at the table from left to right?
  7. Why is the painting in such poor condition?
  8. Why can we not see Jesus’s feet?
  9. What year was the painting’s major restoration completed?
  10. What is DaVinci’s most famous painting?

Answers:

  1. The work was commissioned by the Duke of Milan, and the subject matter was chosen for DaVinci.
  2. 15 feet tall by 29 feet wide.
  3. The original mural is on a wall of the refectory (dining hall) in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy.
  4. It took DaVinci (a noted procrastinator with a history of leaving works unfinished), about three years to complete the mural from 1495 to 1498.
  5. They are the 12 disciples.
  6. Bartholomew, James, Andrew, Judas, Peter, John, Jesus, Thomas, James (brother of John), Phillip, Matthew, Thaddeus, and Simon.
  7. The painting is in such poor condition because instead of painting in wet plaster, DaVinci chose to paint this in dry plaster. The immediate result was a much more stunning piece. The long term disaster was that it was not at all durable. It was not unlike painting on a cement wall with Tempura paint.
  8. Jesus did originally have feet, but in 1650 another door was added to the refectory and so the portion of the painting beneath Jesus (nobody knew how famous it would eventually be), was literally demolished. What you see there is an old doorway.
  9. 1999.
  10. Mona Lisa.

About Tim Suttle

Find out more about Tim at TimSuttle.com

Tim Suttle is the senior pastor of RedemptionChurchkc.com. He is the author of several books including his most recent - Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), & An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals.

Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. The band's most recent album is "Straight Back to Kansas." He helped to plant three thriving churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.


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