“Anatomy of a Painting: Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper" at the University of Dubuque's Bisignano Art Gallery -- through March 26.

Exhibit: Through Sunday, March 26

Closing Reception: Sunday, March 26, 2 – 4 p.m.

University of Dubuque's Bisignano Art Gallery, 2255 Bennett Street, Dubuque IA

Perhaps the most fanous mural in the history of world art will be examined in a special exhibition at the University of Dubuque's Bisignano Art Gallery through March 26 when the venue hosts Anatomy of a Painting: Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, a showcase about which gallery director Alan Garfield says, "“For those who wondered why Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper is so famous, I hope this show will begin to answer that question in a number of ways.”

The Last Supper, or L'Ultima Cena, is a mural painting by the Italian High Renaissance artist da Vinci, and it represents the scene of the Last Supper of Jesus with the Twelve Apostles as it is told in the Gospel of John – specifically the moment after Jesus announces that one of his apostles will betray him. Its handling of space, mastery of perspective, treatment of motion, and complex display of human emotion has made it one of the Western world's most recognizable paintings and among Leonardo's most celebrated works. Some commentators consider it pivotal in inaugurating the transition into what is now termed the High Renaissance.

The work was commissioned as part of a plan of renovations to the church and its convent buildings by da Vinci's patron Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. In order to permit his inconsistent painting schedule and frequent revisions, it is painted with materials that allowed for regular alterations: tempera on gesso, pitch, and mastic. Due to the methods used, a variety of environmental factors, and intentional damage, little of the original painting remains today despite numerous restoration attempts, the last being completed in 1999. Housed in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy, The Last Supper is da Vinci's largest work, aside from the Sala delle Asse.

The Anatomy of a Painting: Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper exhibit explores why the painting is famous, shares facts about Leonard da Vinci, reviews a variety of Last Supper paintings, and more. “I can’t count the number of times that people have walked up to me and expressed both their admiration for, and confusion with, the da Vinci painting The Last Supper," says Garfield. "So Noah Bullock, art gallery coordinator, and I thought given that the spring season is holy for both Jews and Christians and that everyone loves or is confused by da Vinci, we could have a show dissecting his most famous work. What we have tried to do is to replicate, in some small way, the effect one might have by going to Milan, in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie, where the mural is located. So we tried to show the size and scale in this showcase.”

A closing reception for Anatomy of a Painting: Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper will be held on March 26 from 2 to 4 p.m., and the exhibition itself will be on display through March 26, with regular gallery hours noon to 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday. Admission is free, and more information is available by calling (563)589-3267 and visiting Dart.dbq.edu/gallery.

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