One of the most important characteristics of the Renaissance is that during this period, the authors of the art got the opportunity to sign their names on their artworks. This is how the first artistic careers started to develop. It is difficult to make a distinction between the authors and their cities, because in this time, the successful ones used to get hired by different cities, fact that led the art and architecture to become challenging and progressive. In general, the artist's city supporter, (or let's say the "city investor") was the one to decide how and where the artist would work . Usually, the best artists got hired by the most wealthy cities: Medici for Florence, Sforza for Milan, Gonzaga for Mantua.
In 1494 Ludovico Sforza became lord of Milan. He made an open call for numerous artists to decorate his castle. Among the group that responded was Leonardo da Vinci. He, in a search of new challenges, entered the service of the Duke of Milan in 1482, abandoning his first commission in Florence. He spent 17 years in Milan, and left after Duke Ludovico Sforza's fall from power, in 1499.
The Secret Dinner or the Last Supper (L'Ultima Cena) is one of the most important art pieces ever made; it's not only Leonardo's best piece , but a magnificent artwork of the human civilisation in general. This world's greatest masterpiece is painted with the fresco technique and was created during the Renaissance, probably from 1494 to 1498.
In 1494, Leonardo da Vinci was given the task of creating a picture of the Secret Dinner in the Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie. This small chapel was chosen by the Duke of Milan as a family chapel and mausoleum. The painting was supposed to decorate the northern wall of the church. It is interesting that in this picture, Judas sits on the same side of the table with everyone else, (just like Jesus Christ and the apostles), as opposed to the traditional display where he is sitting on the opposite side.
Books and books have been written to break the secret code of Leonardo; all of them included guesses and thoughts on why Judas is being presented in this way.
The image survived the 1943 bombing. After a while some damage got visible. A complex and radical restoration process was completed in the second half of the 1990s, and since then the work has been made available to the public.
Be grateful that it still exists and don't miss the opportunity to admire this masterpiece.
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