Milan, 1496 and 44-year-old Leonardo da Vinci is in a state of professional uncertainty and financial difficulty. For 18 months he has been painting murals in both the Sforza Castle in Milan and the refectory of the convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The latter project will become The Last Supper, a complex mural that took three years to complete on a surface 15 feet high by 20 feet wide. He had never attempted a painting so big, and had no experience with fresco.
For more than five centuries The Last Supper has been an artistic, religious, and cultural icon. Art historian Kenneth Clark called it "the keystone of European art". Yet this artistic masterpiece was created against the backdrop of momentous events both in Milan and in the life of Leonardo himself. In Leonardo and The Last Supper, Ross King tells the story of this creation of this mural: a 'biography' of one of the most famous works of art ever painted.
©2012 Ross King (P)2012 AudioGO Ltd
I am an avid eclectic reader.
Leonardo Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” is shrouded in mystery and controversy for which Ross King has attempted to settle some of the mysteries regarding the painting. “The Last Supper” is in the former refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. It was Da Vinci’s largest painting; he painted it with oils on one of the refectory walls. Between the damp walls, Napoleon’s soldiers using the refectory as a stable, the RAF bombing in WWII which left it exposed to the elements for months and many other unrecorded damaging events to the painting we are lucky it still exists today. In attempting to settle some of the controversies about the painting Ross goes into great detail on how Da Vinci painted the scenes. I was interested in his comments about Dan Brown’s book “The Da Vinci Code” and other comments he revealed the truth about from Brown’s book. In brown’s book he claimed the figure sitting on Jesus’ right is Mary Magdalene, Ross goes into great discourse proving the figure is actually John. Ross also explains that Da Vinci’s “Last Supper” was different from other such past paintings because Da Vinci had expressive faces on the apostles and great life like detail of plates of food and even pleats on the tablecloth. I found the book most fascinating, sort of like reading a mystery story. Mark Meadows did a good job narrating the book. If you are interested in history or art history you will enjoy this book.
Not so magical as King's Judgement of Paris or Brunelleschi's Dome, this is still a lovely art history report.
At times you'll wonder at the way it seems to jump from topic to topic (from wars and alliances between Italian dukedoms and Charles of France, one is suddenly discussing human flight, party tricks for bored courtiers, the chemistry of paint on fresco, or the Fibonacci sequence), until you realize that King has allowed you a glimpse into the mind of the brilliant Leonardo, and the way so many subjects preyed upon his ravenous attention simultaneously. It's the one truly inspired aspect of this narrative, and very well done.
Leonardo is a tremendously colorful character from the renaissance, but this book fails to live up to the potential in the story of this legendary artist. It seemed that Mr King lacked a sense for the narrative thrust of the story. The result is a meander of detail. I am a fan of his previous works so I found it deeply disappointing for this one to be so lackluster. If this is your only experience of Ross King, try his other works they are well worth the listen. This one was not
Going into the world and mind of Leonardo da Vinci was a glorious experience. From the technical difficulty of painting on wet plaster to the upheavals of Italian politics at the time. This story covers a lot of ground. And covers it extremely well.
If you're interested in History and Art then I think this is a book you'll really enjoy.
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I enjoyed the book overall, but I was more interested by the “behind the scenes” story of the painting than I was in the life of Leonardo.
Once again Ross King takes us on another adventure to the world of the Renaissance. While the subject of the Last Supper is indeed far more limited in scope than Brunelleschi's Dome or Michelangelo's Ceiling, Ross expands beyond the horizon of the refectory wall to the limitless vistas of Da Vinci's world. I can only say that I wish he would have gone even further. The narration is also quite good. I'm on my third listen.
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