The Last Supper by Famous Artists
Leonardo da Vinci was looking for a model to pose as Christ for his painting, THE LAST SUPPER. At last, he found an innocent, angelic-looking, uncorrupted and beautiful young man, in a church in Milan, and hired him to pose as Jesus.
Two years passed. Leonardo then needed a model to pose for him as Judas Iscariot: the apostle who betrayed Jesus! The artist scoured the streets of Milan again, and finally found the appropriate model for Judas, inside a brothel! The man appeared dissipated, inebriated, ill, and decadent-eough. Leonardo hired him.
When the man entered Leonardo’s studio, upon seeing his painting of Christ, he said, aghast: “I posed ofr that painting for you, two years ago!” –
… A fine Model is very, very rare. I had no such luck with my LAST SUPPER: I painted all the thirteen figures straight out of my head!
– F.N. Souza, Jan. 2002
This work represents an instance of the artist’s early fascination for Christian themes. The painting, in oil on cloth, depicts the twelve apostles in profile, six stand in the foreground and six in the background; Christ, is the only figure depicted in full frontal view. All the figures, have very large eyes, a characteristic feature of Jamini Roy’s work. The artist developed his own personal style which was characterized by bold lines and flat use of colour.
In 1984, gallerist Alexandre Iolas commissioned Warhol to create a group of works based on Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper (1495-97) for an exhibition space in the Palazzo Stelline in Milan, located across the street from Santa Maria delle Grazie, home of Leonardo’s masterpiece. Warhol exceeded the demands of the commission and produced nearly 100 variations on the theme. Indeed, the extent of the series indicates an almost obsessive investment in the subject matter, which takes on an added significance in light of the revelation of the secret religious life revealed after Warhol’s death, which occurred only a month after the opening of the Milan exhibition in January 1987. The cycle also refers to the artist’s use of Leonardo’s Mona Lisa 20 years earlier, and to his series begun during the mid-1980s based on Renaissance and Modernist masterworks.
Francis Newton Souza
Souza states ‘It was the Roman Catholic Church in Goa that gave me any ideas of images and image-making.’ (Edwin Mullins,Francis Newton Souza, London, 1962, p. 53). As a child Souza suffered from a serious attack of smallpox and his Catholic mother vowed that if he ever survived she would enroll her son in the Jesuit priesthood. Although Souza never became a priest, religious imagery was a powerful source of inspiration for him, especially during the first few decades as an artist. ‘His mother’s vow that he would join the priesthood should he be cured appears to have created a deadweight of responsibility on a child’s consciousness. A dream world was born: phantasmagoria, hallucinations, angels in paradise, the sun, moon and stars personified, vividly imagined. Souza’s work communicates a fear and hatred of the practice and symbols of a religion that fascinate and revolt him in turn. He turns them over again as if playing with the conjurer’s tools in a vain attempt to comprehend or destroy. He returns obsessively to make his Christ symbolic of suffering and mankind, dehumanised, vile and ugly, pitiable, surrounded by implacable fate and with no trace of the essence of Christianity the compassion and love that illuminates, for instance, the work of Roualt.’ (Maria Aurora Couto, “Souza: In communion with Goa,” The Hindu, Sunday, April 7, 2002).
The last supper is a recurring theme throughout the Renaissance and it is likely that Souza on his arrival in London would have been aware of various depictions of this scene including Leonardo Da Vinci’s Last Supper. Although Souza’s composition bears only a few similarities to Leonardo’s painting, like Leonardo he chose to capture the moment just after Christ tells his apostles that one of them will betray him, and at the institution of the Eucharist. Similarly Christ’s head is at the center of the composition, framed by a halo-like architectural opening. These features may be purely coincidental but it is interesting to note that this current lot was produced shortly after Andy Warhol produced his own series of works on the Last Supper each inspired by the mural produced by Leonardo. Unlike Warhol however Souza draws little upon these ancient images and instead chooses to adapt images from his own sources. For the most part the features of the apostles are typical of his own stylized heads of the late 1950’s and 60’s and the work appears to be a powerful reworking of some of his most important early figurative works.
In conversation with Yashodhara Dalmia in 1991 Souza said of the Last Supper ‘I have created a new type of face. In the Last Supper there are two or three faces and they are drawn in completely new iconography, beyond Picasso’…’Dalmia states ‘Christ and his ghoulish companions are lined against a horizontal band representing the table. The entire ensemble brings together a motley group some with tubular projections, others with Martian faces and still others with eyes on the forehead reminiscent of his earlier heads. Christ seated in the centre has a remorseful expression as he hands the goblet of wine to the elephantine Judas.’ (Yashodhara Dalmia, The Making of Modern Indian Art: The Progressives, New Delhi, 2001).
“My works are more popular than I am,” said Bangalore-based multimedia artist Vivek Vilasini pointing to ‘Last Supper-Gaza’ the photograph that gained popularity in 2008 for capturing the plight of Gazans living in dread of an imminent strike from Israeli forces.
The photographic art exhibited at the Aspinwall House as part of India’s first biennale is a recreation of da Vinci’s iconic ‘Last Supper’ featuring 13 models clad in burqas in place of Jesus Christ and his 12 disciples. The photograph was splashed across prominent newspapers the world over. The work was exhibited at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela in Spain, where the remains of the apostle Saint James are buried.
“The church’s decision to exhibit the work was gutsier than my decision to make the artwork,” said Vilasini.
The idea to give a voice to the cause of the people of Gaza was suggested by a friend after he saw Vilasini’s recreation of the ‘Last Supper’ featuring Kathakali artistes.
Vilasini realised that there was no semblance of peace in the land where Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, lived and preached.
In 2011, Madhvi Parekh painted this monumental work based on one of the most famous paintings in the history of world art, Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper (1495–1498), on the walls of the Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. She has been interested in da Vinci’s art for three or four years now, but this is the first time she has taken up the theme on such a large scale in a medium that she has been exploring in much of her recent bodies of work.
Parekh’s artwork is of a massive size, and consists of five large acrylic, painted panels, each six feet by four feet. Her technique is what is called “reverse glass painting”; its history is quite old and dates to the time when glass was first invented and then painted in the ancient Roman world and China.
Ketna Patel’s project is a more overtly political series of works that, in her words, take a dig at what’s happening in the world. Titled Heterotopia, it combines Renaissance art and current-day political realities in a way that’s both cheeky and hard-hitting. A sample: a reimagining of the Last Supper with politicians seated at the table, eating junk food and surrounded by litter.
Zeng Fanzhi’s monumental work The Last Supper was inspired by the painting of the same title by the Italian Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci. It boldly encapsulates the transforming fabric of the Chinese society during the economic reform in the 1990s, and ultimately stands as perhaps the most representative work in the history of contemporary Chinese art. The Last Supper was offered in Sotheby’s Hong Kong 40th Anniversary Evening Sale on 5 October 2013 and set a world auction record for a work by a living Chinese artist, making HK$180.44m/US$23.13 m.