Around the description of the Last Supper of Leonardo da Vinci, was born in me desire to repropose this sacred event. I do not have intentional to interpret a evangelic episode acclimatizing it in a tangible world, but I have intentional to crystallize a spiritual event that exceeded space and time. In order to cover spiritual roads it is necessary to travel fortifying itself of symbols. It can be tried to express a truth not tied to our material condition, using of symbolic images. These images in their sensitive rappresentazione, represent a language constituted from analogies and allegories, being able to speak thus about a world that otherwise could not be to us known. This world is the mythical world, or the world of the collective unconscious , and however that one of an atavic memory that is within us. Thus my attempt of wanting is born to contract in a field limited to a single event, an advanced embrace that invests multiple events.
The supper represents the assembly of the people of God, where the twelve tribes of Israel are replaced of the twelve Apostles. The scene mother therefore, is not the betrayal of Giuda, like painted Leonardo, but the institution of the Eucarestia: do this in memory of me (Lc. 22,19) thus I have written in the painting to the center under the Christ. That is consumed is the bread and the wine fruit of the job and sweat of the man, body and blood of Christ: who nutre of they obtains immortality. But this ritual is not new in the history of the humanity. The bread and the wine already were considered sacred alimony to the God Mitra in order to obtain the divine life, and similar rituals came practiced near other people in order to celebrate pagan gods. Still today the custom is diffused to cook little figures of paste with human sembianze; this remembers the cults in which it came ideally consumed the body of the divinity in form of bread.
The blood (wine) separated from the body (bread) indicates the sacrifice of Christ. To redimeem the humanity, the Son of God pours own blood that is the center of the life. The blood in the painting is the cape of the Christ; it like a river lick every Apostle purifying it. As it cleanses every Apostle, the blood cleanses all the humanity.
Following the philosophical idea of Pitagora and the Pythagoreans, in which the numbers constitute the key of access for the understanding the harmonic laws of the universe, the composition of the painting is articulated from a rhythm of the number three and four. The mathematical perception of the world begins from the observation of the celestial cycles and from the rhythms of alternation of the vital earthly existence. The numbers are the language of measurement of the cosmic order, and therefore manifestation of the divinity. With this vision the numbers are not alone instruments useful to the man in order to measure and to decipher the space, but they reenter between the symbols of the absolute.
ONE original from which every thing has moved, is God.
The space of the painting in the Last Supper, leaves from the center: Creator God is the center, Father, Son and Saint Spirit are represented by the three yellow circles. The Two is the duality of the existence: the Ying and the Yang. In the painting on the right the silver and on the left the gold. The Yang is the positive male force relative to all active, solar, shiny, dry and hard things. The Ying is the negative feminine principle , inherent to the passive, buie, humid, soft things. The duality expresses also the two bronze columns of the temple of king Salomone: Jakin (God support) and Boaz (in Him is the Force). Regarding the disposition of the Apostles, I have copied Leonardo, separating the Saints in four groups. Eevery group has a season ackground, moving from right to left we have: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter.
Four are also the Evangelisti: At Luca corresponds the Taurus , sacrificial animal ; Giovanni who has the Aquila like symbol; Matteo represented from a winged Man (the angel); Mark to which the Lion places side by side itself. Now these figures that serve from symbol speak us also about four parts of a anthropomorhic creature who recalls ancient topics. The four images remember us the four constellations that indicate the spring and autumn equinoxes (Toro and Aquila, that it replaces the Scorpion seen as negative animal the constellation of the Aquila finds over that of the Scorpion) and the solstices of summer and winter (Lion and Aquarius). Naturally these constellations do not more coincide because of the movement of the terrestrial axis and the precession of the equinoxes (“phenomenon for which the equinoctial points they describe the ecliptic in approximately 26.000 years.” - from the Zingarelli dictionary)
Bring back to number four are the Elements, represented here on the feet of the Apostles: Water, Air, Earth and Fire. Thus I have painted the four elements: the Water is contained in the Goblets; the Air is represented by the Swords; the Earth is the material that recalls the Money (thirty money are designed and they are under Giuda); at last the Fire that burns the Sticks. They are the four suite of cards. Like in Leonardo, the Apostles are disposed in four groups of three for a total of twelve. Number twelve is the base of the sessagesimale system studied by the Sumeri. It indicates the penetration of the spirit in the matter. In the Apocalypse of Giovanni, the book that narrates the history of the reign of God, the twelve is found again in stars around the head of the sun dressed Woman (12.1). I remember the twelve stones on rations of adds Hebrew clergyman that symbolize the twelve tribes of Israel. Twelve are the months, the entire year, and the zodiac signs.
3 x 4 = 12; 3+4 = 7. The seven is an other number that is covered of sacred and mythical meanings. We read now what Marsilio Ficino (philosopher of the Rinascimento) tells concerning number seven: and thus the spirit, dipped in the composed body, would come constantly from this dispersed and upsotten, for that it appears coherent to represent it in a triangle. But at this triangle they (the Pythagoreans) assign seven numerical limits evidently suggested from the fact that we can state that the generation of the things is governed from the number of planets, that they are exactly seven, and that the last one of they, that is Saturno, produces in the life of the men its changes every seven years; and thus also the Moon, very small of planets, produces same changes in itself and in the umorali liquids every seven days. Therefore it does not seem to have said an absurdity when they described on the base of the number seven the spirit, the origin of the movement and the generation. There is quite that it thinks that number seven even presides to the formation of the fetus in the maternal uterus, let alone the developments of the life of the man after the birth. (Theologiae Platonicae de immortalitate animorum, Marsilio Ficino Author: Books XVIII by Michele Schiavone and Zanichelli Bologna).
I have represented up seven planets under the sembianze of seven angels who are also the seven divinity of Olympus.
He will ask himself because symbols hide other symbols. Lived in XIV the century one philosopher famous in its times, now nearly completely forgotten, whose name is Giulio Camillo Delminio. This personage realized a theater of the memory the Theatro of the world , where they are contained ideas and concepts regarding the symbolism, a lot interesting to which I refer in the painting.
The symbols are hidden from other symbols because “ .belong to the divine things to the over blue world, and being that separating from we from the mass of all skies, and the ours language not being able to reach the expression of that one if (I will say so) for signals and similes, so that for means of the visible things we ascend to the invisible . And we use the images in the ours things , like means of those things, than they do not have to be desecrate.
Regarding to the number seven Delminio still says: Salomone to ninth of the' proverbs says the wisdom has built up the house, and has founded it on seven columns. These columns meaning stablest eternity we have to mean that they are the seven sephiroth of the over blue world, that they are the seven measures of the factory of the celestial one and the inferior, in which are comprised the Ideas of all belonging things to the celestial one and the inferior . Outside from this number we can't imagine nothing. This settenario is perfect number, because contains one and the other sex, in order to be made of par and odd number, perfectly make happy waves wanting to say Virgilio said: serque quaterque. ( the Idea of the Theatro of Giulio Camillo Delminio by Ugo Marchetti and Severgnini).
Every Apostle represents a month in relation to the season in background. To every month a zodiacale sign corresponds. The first group of Apostles beginning from our right is constituted :
Knowing that the Aries is a sign of Fire, the Taurus of Earth and the Gemini of Air, in order to complete the four and to restore the equilibrium of the four elements the Water lacks, that I have represented to the feet of the three Saints: the Water is contained in the Goblets
I have tried in my interpretation to assign to every Apostle the position of the body and the color of the tunic more relating to the represented zodiacale sign.
The second group counts:
Filippo Cancer sign of Water, Giacomo the Minor Lion sign of Fire, Tommaso Virgin sign of Earth, lacks the Air in order to restore the equilibrium of the four elements; the Air is represented to the feet of the Apostles, from the swords that sharp and fast cut the air with an hiss.
The air has its Voice, without it we could not hear nothing.
The third group is composed:
John Libra sign of Air, Giuda Scorpion sign of Water, Peter Sagittarius sign of Fire, lacks the Earth in order to re-establish the equilibrium; he is represented to the feet of the Apostles with the thirty silver Money.
The last group is composed:
In order to re-establish the balance between the four elements the Fire is painted while it burns the Sticks.
The Apostles are here all the humanity that manifest in appearing and disappearing, that is in to be born and in to die under the influence of the different zodiacal signs. Represented the flow incessant of the Time that seems inexorably devoured everything, but in truth the year is closed for beginning again, and so forever in an eternity return. The Christ is to the center of the Time, represented here apex of a triangle realized from the line of the heads of the Saints. Its eyes are two circles with in the center a point, symbol of the Sun and the navel of the world. As the navel is the barycentre of the body, thus the Christ is the barycentre for the equilibrium of the Cosmos.
The symbol of the sun is a circle with an evidenced center; the right eye of the Christ is the center of the yellow circle.
The Angels, in the painting, represent seven planets, that they characterize symbolically the seven columns of the tempio of king Salomone.
All people that they have been interested to the symbolism of the celestial bodies have attributed great importance to planets, assigning they a sacred function . the position from them occupied at the moment of the birth of every man give the formulation of the horoscope. (Encyclopedia of the Symbols Garzanti)
The symbolic importance of number seven of planets is known from the renaissance Philosophy. Number that corresponds also to the days of the week. Thus It is passed, in the painting, from the four seasons, to the twelve months, to the seven days of the week.
I have followed the dispositions of seven planets given from Camillo Delminio in its book: Moon, Mercury, Venus, Sun, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn. Always starting from right:
I finish with the angels my description, reporting a thought of Herbert Kuhn:
Because every earthly representation, every search, every anxiety and thought and feeling and experience and surveying and attempt, are always and only a search of the eternity, of the only reason for which all alive (Herpert Kuhn the European art from the prehistory to the Middle Ages And Aldo Hammer).