Leonardo and the Last Supper
By Ross King
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Milan, 1496 and 44-year-old Leonardo da Vinci is in a state of professional uncertainty and financial difficulty. For eighteen 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.