John's Church

It was St. John that Leonardo drew in The Last Supper, and he is a different person from John the Baptist.
However, there are possibility that three motifs suggesting John the Baptist were drawn in the background of John.

One of the three symbols is the way of the wilderness John the Baptist would have wandered.
That road is drawn as a winding road from the foreground to the back.

The second one is drawn in a corner of the wilderness road with tall dead trees,It implies a cross-shaped cane, which is the belongings of John the Baptist. Tall dead tree is the most strange and unnatural motif in The Last Supper, however, this dead tree is drawn on the reliable old duplication of the early 16th century.

The third one is a mysterious building drawn on the hillside and there is a possibility that it was drawn for comparison with the church of Jesus.
The very important point is that this mysterious house is drawing higher than the central Jesus' church. This method is coincident with composition of Virgin of the Rocks.
Previous Leonardo drew Infant John at a higher position than Infant Jesus.

It is possible that Leonardo had special respect for John the Baptist.


The Last Supper Reconstruction - John's Church and Christ's Church

The Last Supper Reconstruction - John's Church and Christ's Church


In the case of 'The Virgin of the Rocks' everyone confuse the Infant John with the Infant Jesus.
Therefore, the confraternity refused to give what he considered a fair price for the painting. Leonardo painted a replacement for San Francesco that was probably completed with some help from his studio in 1508, and which is now in the National Gallery Collection.

John the Baptist's life is simple, wearing rope (gamla) fiber clothing, carrying a long thin wooden cross and eating "locusts and wild honey" and appeared in the wilderness preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.The fame of John reached the ears of Jesus in Nazareth, and he came from Galilee to Jordan to be baptized by John .
These episode, the wilderness, a long thin wooden cross and the Jordan, are imaged in the St. John's background. For Leonardo, only John the Baptist as the forerunner of Christ and the most holy man.
Therefore, Leonardo's works have a complicated expression and an elusive composition.

Leonardo's last masterpiece "John the Baptist" in the Louvre, have also a mysterious.
Now, this picture's background was overpainted with black and added a cane cross in his breast.
Many people never doubt he is John the Baptist, nevertheless,It is possible that this picture was originally started as the young Jesus Christ. The document exist, Isabella d'Este asked Leonardo to paint the young Jesus Christ .
As usual, Leonardo does not implemented. The picture was not completed, and was never delivered.  December 10 2012


Left:Infant John    Right:Infant Jesus



The seating arrangements of The Last Supper

The traditional seating arrangement at the Last Supper,  Jesus' left side is St. John and right side is St.Peter. 
Many artists accepted this traditional seating arrangement faithfully ( Domenico Ghirlandajo, Andrea del Castagno). The first plan of the Last Supper, Leonardo obviously attempted the traditional seating arrangement. It has confirmed by the study for the Last Supper (Windsor Castle Royal Collection).
Further more, each pose of the figure,  Christ, Peter and John, prove the possibility as the composition of  three persons in the center.
Leonardo's first plan is the Holy Trinity, in the center of the Last Supper. However, Leonardo expand the  Holy Trinity all over the picture.The new plan is innovative composition, Christ was excluded from the Holy Trinity, and then create the new four Holy Trinity.


Final seating arrangement


First seating arrangement


The Holy Trinity of the Last Supper


The position of the left arm

Leonardo's first plan of the Last Supper, Peter's left arm rest on the Jesus'  arm this like, and Judas left hand has to get closer to the bread and Jesus' hand.  December 10 2012