Triumph & Tragedy:

Leonardo da Vinci's Fresco of the Last Supper

Laurie Taylor-Mitchell, Ph.D
Monday, April 29, 2019, 10 a.m. - 11:30 a.m.
Silber Art Gallery - Athenaeum (Directions / Campus Map)

Program Description

This program will provide the historical context for Leonardo's fresco of The Last Supper, one of the most widely imitated compositions in Western art. Discussion will begin with Leonardo’s innovations in painting and his representation of the subject, and end with its miraculous survival of the bombing of Milan during World War II.  

Program Objectives

  • Understand Leonardo’s composition by comparing it with earlier versions of the subject in Florentine painting
  • Debunk some recent theories about it (notably via Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code)
  • Explore Leonardo’s belief that the art of painting was superior to all others
  • Learn how Leonardo's relentless experimentation with painting techniques led to the tragic disintegration of this great work 

Program Format

  1. PowerPoint presentation
  2. Materials for handout, with discussion
  3. Question & Answer 

Suggested Supplementary Readings

  1. Chronology of Leonardo's life and career (handout)
  2. A short textural of Renaissance humanism with Leonardo's views on painting (handout)
  3. For future reading: Leo Steinberg, Leonardo's Incessant Last Supper, esp. Chapter II, "The Subject", June 2001

About the Presenter

Laurie Taylor-MitchellDr. Laurie Taylor-Mitchell was an Associate Professor in the Department of Art and Archeology at Hood College. She has also taught classes in the Odyssey Program through Johns Hopkins University. Her field of expertise is the Italian Renaissance, and her area of research and publication is Italian Art of the 14th and15th centuries, primarily in Florence. She is a co-author with Julia Miller of "From  Giotto  to Botticelli, the Artistic Patronage of the Humiliati in Florence," published by Penn State University Press, 2015.