Sinister at the Last Supper

When choosing to read Ross King’s Leonardo and the Last Supper for Lent, I realized that near the end of Lent, the Gospel readings at mass would provide an interesting parallel to King’s description of Leonardo’s masterpiece.  And indeed the Holy Week gospels focusing on Judas matched up perfectly with King’s description of the portrayal of that betrayer by Leonardo.  Did you know that Judas was left-handed, had red hair, and may have been modeled on the prior of Santa Maria, the Dominican Friary on whose refectory wall the mural has been painted?  (Another interesting parallel between the book and monastic life occurs when you listen to a description of what a refectory is like when you are in fact sitting in a refectory listening to table reading.)

One fascinating nugget of trivia from the book is that Judas spills the salt, while reaching with his left hand (the sinister hand) for the same dish as Christ is.  This is not apparent in the mural, but it is from a faithful copy of the original by Giampietrino painted in 1520.  So while Leonardo was not superstitious he contributed to the idea that spilling salt is bad luck (Ross King, pp. 234-5).


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One Response to Sinister at the Last Supper

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