"Man is the measure"

Leonardo da Vinci, Last Supper, Milan, Santa Maria delle Grazie 1495-7



This drawing condenses misfortunes the "Last Supper" has suffered and reveals modern correction.
Leonardo painted a lead white primer on top of the plaster wall to slow the drying and so he could paint more slowly.  It's not clear why the two didn't adhere but possibly the moisture of the plaster wall rejected the oil based primer on its surface and kept it from creating a tight cohesive bond.

1) The door was enlarged in 1652
2) Half a dozen well meaning restorers seem to have been its worst enemy.
3) A protective curtain hung by friars in 1768 trapped humidity and abraided the mural when opened for visitors.
4) To ward against sunlight, nearby windows are now boarded.
5) Post world war rebuilding added central heating which stabilized the environment.
6) The foundations of the structure were strengthened.
(Source: National Geographic Magazine)

  • linear perspective
  • atmospheric perspective
  • aerial perspective
  • sfumato
  • chiaroscuro
  • neoplatonic
  • humanistic
  • theological
  • classical





Leonardo da Vinci 
Vitruvian Man, 
Study of proportions,
from Vitruvius's 
De Architectura
1492 Pen and ink, 
34.3 x 24.5 cm

"man is the measure of all things"



Virgin and St. Anne with the Christ Child and the Young John the Baptist. c 1500-1 
Charcoal heightened with white on brown paper, 54x39" (139x101 cm) National Gallery, London

Virgin and St. Anne with the Christ Child.1510 
Oil on wood, 
168,5 x 130 cm 
Musée du Louvre, Paris

aerial perspective
atmospheric perspective

Leonardo, Virgin and St. Anne with the 
Christ Child.1510 Oil on wood, 168,5 x 130 cm 
Musée du Louvre, Paris