Secrets And Mysterties Hidden In Old Masterpieces – Last Supper By Leonardo Da Vinci

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The historical masterpieces are full of symbols and hidden meanings. Since the circumstances of those times were generally not favourable towards open expression and also since the concepts of the paintings were practically dictated by the buyer, primarily The Church, the masters were forced to use their great diplomatic skills and tactics to imbed their messages surreptitously. There is no just one way to view the paintings. Although dictionaries of symbolism of different eras are available there still exists that intriguing possibility…there might be more to decipher.

Leonardo da Vinci whose inventing and artistic capabilities were well ahead of the times he lived in, was indeed a controversial figure in our history. His ingenuity leaves opportunities for all kinds of conspiracy theories. 

The painting of the Last Supper which is displayed in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy, created between 1495 and 1498, still leaves us with a considerable lot that can be speculated.  


Leonardo da Vinci – Last Supper in the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria della Grazie in Milan, Italy

The obvious part of the painting is the 13 characters at the table which include Jesus and the 12 apostles, the figure that created the superstition about the number 13. At a closer look there comes up an ambiguity of whose hand is holding the knife to the left of Jesus. 


Jesus and 12 apostles

While the impression is that it is the hand of St. Peter an optical illusion appears to say, in a symbolic explanation, the knife in the hand belonging to no one at the table is deemed to be the hand of the traitor whose identity is not yet known. 


Symbols of knife, purse and salt

At the same time, Jesus mirrors Judas‘ gesture by picking the bread which gives a secret signal of there being a traitor amongst them. Judas is holding a small purse, which in likelihood contains silver coins – the price received for betrayal. 


Secret signal

Leonardo Da Vinci was a genius shrouded in mystery. This very fact raises many questions about the secret messages in his works. Whether those are worth investigating is a matter of debate. 

A lot of credit relating to the conspiracy theories goes to the author Dan Brown who wrote the book, the Da Vinci Code. As sensational the book may be, it is still a work of fiction. 

Among others, the book raised the question of who is the figure left of Jesus. Is it John or Mary Magdalene? The imaginary letter “M” connecting these two could lead to a second speculation. 


John or Mary Magdalene?

The feminine appearance might have a simple explanation the way some young men look and which is how John was sometimes depicted to be. At the same time there is one more of da Vinci’s works of a rather woman like face on John the Baptist, painted between 1513 -16. 


Leonardo da Vinci: Saint John the Baptist / Photo: Flickr, from the gallery of Dennis Jarvis

And there are also other works  that come with new suspicions and potential discoveries. 

The idea of flipping and overlapping da Vinci’s pictures that an Italian amateur Slavisa Pesci came up with about 10 years ago is quite sensational.  Leonardo da Vinci was known for mirroring even his writing. So the idea of hidden meanings, while tempting, is not entirely out of place.


Concept of mirroring described by Slavisa Pesci 

When you see the results  of such editing, new figures show up, including apparently a woman holding a child, or knights….and many new questions come up. 

It takes an endless passion to study a masterpiece and there is always some romance in those unknown and possible explanations that lead us to more areas not established yet. After all, we are allowed our imagination. 

Finally, It´s not inconceivable that a master such as da Vinci put in the enigmas just for the fun of it.

Photos: Shutterstock / Graphic Editing: Martina Advaney

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