Leonardo’s Last Supper through the ages
I continually come across astounding images when crafting our resources for use in the AP® classroom; they serve as a reminder that a work of art is often subjected to dramatic events. Moreover, that these images stem from so many different places underlines the special value of the Artstor Digital Library.
Recently, in gathering the 24 images to support the teaching of Leonardo’s Last Supper, I found that we had seamlessly accessed eleven different repositories, from the Royal Library in Windsor Castle to the Musée national de la Renaissance–Château d’Écouen.
One of the most compelling of these images shows the refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie outside of Milan after a bombing raid in 1943. The sandbagged and reinforced wall of the Last Supper can be discerned amid the rubble.
Using this and other archival images in the classroom teaches students of the fragile nature of our collective artistic heritage. Allowing them to zoom in closely on images taken during the restoration of Leonardo’s monumental work (see above) shows them that science is often used in the service of art. And looking at preparatory sketches by the artist alongside a sixteenth century copy by Marco d’Oggiono helps them see something of Leonardo da Vinci’s original intent more than 500 years ago.
To access the entire resource on the Last Supper in the Artstor Digital Library, go to Organize > Open Images Group > Global Folders > AP Art History Teacher Resources > AP® Art History Teaching Resources > 73. Last Supper, Leonardo da Vinci (1494 to 98 CE).
There you will also find three related image groups: Other works by Leonardo, Other examples of narrative art, and Other examples, the Last Supper, complete with descriptive text and links to helpful online resources.