Da Vinci's Last Supper and Baxandall

7:00 AM

Da Vinci, The Last Supper, 1498

In the 15th century, an increasing amount of attention was being placed upon figures. The motion and biology of figures was considered just as important as the color and placement. While quality of materials was previously of more emphasis, this shift meant artists needed more skill to create works, rather than just expensive materials. In terms of anatomy, Da Vinci was the best. Da Vinci's expansive study of the anatomy of the human body gave him the ability to paint the realistic figures seen in his painting, The Last Supper. Da Vinci's study allowed him to paint complicated and lively scenes without sacrificing proportion. Clients, however, still wanted the figures to lively and realistic without sacrificing movement.

The people on either side of Jesus from two distinct groups, while Jesus takes up the middle. This division of the painting into three parts adds motion to the figures, called "aria" by Baxandall. The use of placement to convey movement adds life to the painting, without destroying its monumentalist take on the religious story. Da Vinci's talent for this made him perfect for religious paintings like this one.

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