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What do you think Peter, Andrew, and James Minor are telling about Jesus 5/5

Posted on 2011-10-09
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The attached partial image is from famous Last supper painting from Leonardo di Vinci. He was a smart person and this painting is mostly his view.

Question: What do you think Peter, Andrew, and James Minor are telling about Jesus in this painting considering their body language and gestures?

Background: Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci (April 15, 1452 – May 2, 1519) was an Italian Renaissance polymath: painter, sculptor, architect, musician, scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist and writer whose genius, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal.

Thank you.
LastSupper-left2.jpg
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Question by:Mike Eghtebas
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Expert Comment

by:WaterStreet
ID: 36938958
Multiple questions.  Same concern.  But this is more about body language and gestures.

You asked what we think.  My guess is that all this is concern about the prohibition (and the subsequent controversy) of having regular (leavened) bread at the Passover table.  See my original comment about this at http://www.experts-exchange.com/Other/Philosophy_Religion/Q_27387452.html#a36938905
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Author Comment

by:Mike Eghtebas
ID: 36938974
The question is what da Vinci, is being subjective (as most of us often are), is he trying to tell us? The truth maybe different but this question is not about that.

Thanks
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Author Comment

by:Mike Eghtebas
ID: 36939004
Please note that the point of this question is not to discuss and discover a religious truth. The intention is to discuss what da Vinci is trying to tell us by the choice of gestures, body languages, and facial expressions he has painted this. Also see:

Part 1/5
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Other/Philosophy_Religion/Q_27387452.html 

Part 2/5
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Other/Philosophy_Religion/Q_27387641.html

Part 3/5
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Other/Philosophy_Religion/Q_27387642.html

Part 4/5
http://www.experts-exchange.com/Other/Philosophy_Religion/Q_27387651.html

Thank you.
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Expert Comment

by:Jason210
ID: 36967498
As yuou are probably aware, when you look at the restoration of this painting, and the premliminary sketches by Leonardo, there is good evidence to suggest that the figure to the left of Jesus is a woman. Subsequent restorations altered the appearance of this effeminate person into a more masculine person, which strongly suggests that the Church were not happy with it's appearance, anmd wnatde to remove the ambiguity. The idea a woman being so close to Jesus did not fit in with the doctrines of the church at the time. Jesus next to a prostitute was not the message it wanted to send out to the Christian world. There is also other evidence of similar paintings supposedly depicting Mary Magdalen, that have been changed by the Vatican, hidden or painted over, no doubt for similar reasons.

The image you are analysing seems to have been derived from the unrestored version of the painting. If you want to get at Leonardo's ideas, then you need to look also at the restored painting.

It is my belief that in this painting, Leornardo deliberately made the figure to the left of Jesus ambiguous. Possibly he did this to portray John as effeminate, or possibly to communicate John's the belief that a woman -- Mary --  was very close to Jesus and possibly in a relationship with Jesus. But this is all speculation. Ambiguity was often a characteristic of Leonardo's work. There always seems to be two meanings, or a hidden meaning in much of what he painted. A classic example is the Mono Lisa, whose model has an ambiguous expression, and who's background actually depicts two independant landcsapes, one on each side of the Mono Lisa.

But I must say, when I look at the restored version of the Last Supper, I see a woman. There are other things going on this painting that raise questions. For example, there is hand holding a knife which doesn't seem to belong to anyone.

I guess we can never know the answers, only discuss the possibilities.









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Accepted Solution

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sbdt8631 earned 40 total points
ID: 36970715
>>You asked what we think.  My guess is that all this is concern about the prohibition (and the subsequent controversy) of having regular (leavened) bread at the Passover table ...

I'm sensing a common theme here from questions 27387452, 27387641, 27387642 and 27387651. :)
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Assisted Solution

by:WaterStreet
WaterStreet earned 40 total points
ID: 36970838
sbdt8631,

Agree.  In all five questions, it is unlikely the concern or controversy is about different issues.  It must be about the same issue.

I think it's fair to say the issue is about having forbidden unleavened bread on Passover.  However, di Vinci might not have been aware of the Passover timing of the Last Supper, or was not informed regarding the tradition, or (for artistic reasons) elected to show leavened bread because his audience needed to understand the forum was a meal.

The artistic appeal is to the audience, and it does not have to factual.  See, for example:
"Why is Michaelangelo's famous DAVID not circumcised?"
http://www.guardian.co.uk/notesandqueries/query/0,,-82066,00.html
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Expert Comment

by:Jason210
ID: 36971001
Surely Leonardo is simply depicting the moment when Jesus announces that someone will betray him, and the reactions of the disciples to this news?
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Assisted Solution

by:tliotta
tliotta earned 40 total points
ID: 36971316
There are other things going on this painting that raise questions.

Lots of things, almost wherever you look. For example, I haven't figured out why the table doesn't tip over. For da Vinci, it wouldn't seem too difficult to have a more stable base. It's not like he didn't know about the mechanics or didn't grasp perspective. One could go down a fanciful path thinking that it might represent an unstable foundation.

Tom
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Assisted Solution

by:Callandor
Callandor earned 40 total points
ID: 36974872
I'm seeing a lot of funny pixels in the zoomed-in picture of Peter and John.  Peter looks like he is asking John to ask Jesus to clarify the statement that someone will betray him.  Andrew looks like he is backing away from the statement, while James Minor is tapping Peter on the shoulder.
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Author Comment

by:Mike Eghtebas
ID: 36982547
Callandor,

I appreciate for giving inputs in person to person bases; this is what the question was all about. I see the only one smiling is Jesus. The rest seem somewhat at disbelieve or maybe a bit annoyed.

The comment (ID:36971001) from Jason210 is also very good one.

Here of course we are not to draw conclusions or discover a truth. Rather to figure out what Da Vinci is thinking. Please add any other observation you may have.

Thanks.
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Assisted Solution

by:Jason210
Jason210 earned 40 total points
ID: 37012574
I don't think Jesus is smiling in the Original version - see my post in the concurrent thread where I have added a HiRes image of original.
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