Leonardo Da Vinci
Artist, Inventor, and Universal Genius of the Renaissance

When in 1495, Ludovico Il Moro, regent of Milan, told the monks of the convent of Santa Maria Delle Grazie to order a Last Supper from a man who despised their religion, they must have been very unhappy. Leonardo himself must have realized how much he was unsuited for such a task, because he threw himself into such intensive research that it only left him two hours a day to paint: reading the gospels, he meditated, steeped himself in the mentality of the participants, then roamed the streets looking for men of the same type. Aside from the saints, few men have spent so many thousands of hours meditating on Christ and the apostles, and seeking to know them as they were, without transforming them in their own image. The result could only be a Christian work.

Ever the inventor, Leonardo painted the Last Supper using a technique he had created. Unfortunately, it was not completely successful, and the painting began deteriorating soon after it was completed.

Adapted, with permission, from La Renaissance en Question, Tome I, Lina Murr Nehme, Aleph et Taw

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"Leonardo undertook to paint for Francesco del Giocondo a portrait of Mona Lisa his wife, but having spent four years upon it, left it unfinished. This work now belongs to King Francis of France, and whoever wishes to see how art can imitate nature may learn from this head. Mona Lisa being most beautiful, he used, while he was painting her, to have men to sing and play to her and buffoons to amuse her, to take away that look of melancholy which is so often seen in portraits; and in this of Leonardo's there is a peaceful smile more divine than human. By the excellence of the works of this most divine of artists his fame was grown so great that all who delighted in art, and in fact the whole city, desired to have some memorial of it."

Giorgio Vasari, Lives of the Artists

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Mona Lisa's Smile

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