Facts

The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci

Is located Milan’s Monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in northern Italy. Leonardo painted the picture in oil on dry plaster between 1495 and 1497, however, the method was not sound, and the mural began to deteriorate by 1500, it has since been restored. It measures some 4.5 metres tall by 9 metres long. The theme of the painting is the point at which Jesus has just announced that one of those present will betray him. Based on the inscriptions on a copy of the painting in Lugano they are from left to right : Bartholomew, James the Younger, Andrew, Judas, Peter, John, Thomas, James the Elder, Philip, Matthew, Thaddues, Simon the Zealot.


Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan Italy

Grail legends

Le Roman de Perceval

Chrétien de Troyes is generally credited with writing the first Grail legend Le Roman de Perceval ( Le Conte de Graal ) circa 1180. It tells how Perceval ( Son of the Widow Lady ) leaves his mother to win his knighthood. The Fisher King offers him refuge in his castle. That night the Grail ( which a gold, gem studded cup ) appears carried by a maiden. Failing to ask who one serves with the Grail, Perceval awakens the next day to find the castle empty and the land blighted by his omission. Perceval learns that he is of the Grail family and that the Fisher King is actually his uncle, who has been magically sustained by the Grail. Interestingly, in this version neither Christ or Galahad is mentioned.

Le Roman de l'Etoire dou Saint Graal

Written by Robert de Boron circa 1190 - 1199 called the Grail the Cup of the Last Supper. After being used at the Last Supper it is also used by Joseph of Arimathea to catch the blood of Christ at the crucifixion. Joseph's brother in law, Brons, takes the Grail to England and becomes the Fisher King, Perceval's grandfather. Boron ( claiming to see his story in a 'great book' ) said that the vessel in which Christ celebrated the Last Supper was given by Pilate to Joseph who, preparing Christ for burial, gathered in it blood from his wounds. After entombing Christ's body he hides the vessel in his house. 
Joseph is later imprisoned by the Jews and is visited by the risen Christ bearing the Grail. Joseph is told by Christ that only three men would ever guard the Grail and that all who saw it would be forever in Christ's presence. Later freed, Joseph, his sister Enygeus and her husband Brons, leave Palestine.

Periesvaus

Published by an unknown author in 1206-1212 Sir Gawain enters a castle containing two masters and 33 other men clad in white garments withe red crosses on their breasts ( much like Templar garb ). One master claims to have seen the Grail. Here the Grail is a set of visions, of a chalice or candle along with the Holy Lance from which blood flows and two angles carrying a gold candelabra with lighted candles, then three angles and the image of a child, again in the Grail, then a man on a cross speared in the side.

Parzival

Probably the best know Grail romance written by Bavarian Wolfram von Eschenbach circa 1195 - 1216 ). He says Chrétien de Troyes account ( Le Roman de Perceval ) is false and that his version comes from Kyot de Provence who got it from Spanish Moslem sources. It is said to be a stone and hints at a mission set for those called to serve it.

Holy Lance

Christian tradition says that the lance dripped blood after piecing Christ at the crucifixion. This relic was said to have been miraculously found at Antioch in 1098 during the First Crusade. Its discovery in the Church of St Peter following a priestly vision so inspired the Christian defenders that they stormed from the city and defeated the Saracens so it is said.

Sangraal - Translation = Womb; Holy Grail

Sang Raal - Translation = Royal blood

Isis

Great Egyptian mother goddess daughter of Geb ( earth ) and Nuit ( sky ) and wife of her older brother Osiris. The legend says that they rules Egypt jointly but their brother Set murdered Osiris, launching his body on the Nile in a container that Isis found at Byblos enclosed in an acaia tree. She hid his body in the swamps of Buto but Set found it and cut it into fourteen pieces which he then scattered across Egypt. Iris in tern located and retrieved every piece except the phallus. Yet from the dead god Osiris she conceived their son Horus. Forced to leave him and go about disguised as a beggar woman, she returned to find him bitten by a snake ( who was actually Set ). Isis asked the sky to stop the Boat of the Sun, from which Thoth came down and cure Horus. Horus grew up and fought Set and lost an eye in the process.
The name Paris is from 'Par-Isis' meaning the Grove of Isis'. The city's oldest church St Germain-des-Prés, built in AD 542 was constructed over a former temple of Isis.

Leonardo Da Vinci

Leonardo was born on April 15, 1452, in the small town of Vinci, near Florence, in Tuscany. He was the son of a wealthy Florentine notary and a peasant woman. In the mid-1460s the family settled in Florence, where Leonardo was given the best education that Florence, a major intellectual and artistic centre of Italy, could offer. He rapidly advanced socially and intellectually.  In about 1466 he was apprenticed as a garzone (studio boy) to Andrea del Verrocchio, the leading Florentine painter and sculptor of his day. In 1472 he was admitted to the painters’ guild of Florence, and in 1476 he was still considered Verrocchio’s assistant. In Verrocchio’s Baptism of Christ (c. 1470, Uffizi, Florence), the kneeling angel in the left of the painting is by Leonardo. While at the Verrocchio workshop, Leonardo came into contact with artists such as Ghirlandaio and Botticelli.

In 1478 Leonardo became an independent master. His first commission, to paint an altarpiece for the chapel of the Palazzo Vecchio, the Florentine town hall, was never executed. His first large painting, The Adoration of the Magi (Uffizi), begun in 1481 and left unfinished, was ordered for the monastery of San Donato a Scopeto, Florence by the resident monks. Other works ascribed to his youth are the so-called Benois Madonna (c. 1478, Hermitage, St Petersburg), the portrait Ginevra de’ Benci (c. 1474, National Gallery, Washington, D.C.), and the unfinished St Jerome (c. 1481, Pinacoteca, Vatican).

In about 1482 Leonardo entered the service of Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan ( also known as "the Moor" ), having written the duke an astonishing letter in which he stated that he could build portable bridges; that he knew the techniques of constructing bombardments and of making cannons; that he could build ships as well as armoured vehicles, catapults, and other war machines; and that he could execute sculpture in marble, bronze, and clay. He served as principal engineer in the duke’s numerous military enterprises and was also active as an architect. It was during this time that he drew Virtruvian Man ( 1490, Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice ). In addition, he assisted the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in the celebrated work Divina Proportione (1509), a treatise on aesthetics centring on the concept of the Golden Section.

Evidence indicates that Leonardo had apprentices and pupils in Milan, for whom he probably wrote the various texts later compiled as Treatise on Painting (1651; trans. 1956). The most important of his own paintings during the early Milan period was The Virgin of the Rocks, two versions of which exist (1483-1485, Louvre, Paris; 1490s to 1506-1508, National Gallery, London); he worked on the compositions for a long time, as was his custom, seemingly unwilling to finish what he had begun. The commission came from an organization known as the Confraternity of the Immaculate Conception, who wanted a piece for the altar of the chapel of their church, San Fancesco Grande, in Milan. From 1495 to 1497 Leonardo laboured on his masterpiece, The Last Supper, a mural in the refectory of the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. Unfortunately, his experimental use of oil on dry plaster (on what was the thin outer wall of a space designed for serving food) led to technical problems, and by 1500 the mural had begun to deteriorate. Since 1726 attempts have been made, unsuccessfully, to restore it; a concerted conservation and restoration programme, making use of the latest technology, was begun ( controversially ) in 1977 (completed in 1999) and has reversed some of the damage. Although much of the original surface is gone, the majesty of the composition and the penetrating characterization of the figures give a fleeting vision of its vanished splendour.

During his long stay in Milan, Leonardo also produced other paintings and drawings (most of which are now lost), theatre designs, architectural drawings, and models for the dome of Milan Cathedral. His largest commission was for a colossal bronze equestrian statue of Francesco Sforza, father of Ludovico, for the courtyard of Castello Sforzesco. In December 1499, however, the Sforza family was driven from Milan by French forces. Leonardo had made the clay model but contingency dictated that the metal intended for the statue be used for cannon instead. The model was destroyed by French archers, who used it as a target. Leonardo returned to Florence in 1500.

While here, he engaged in mathematical study anatomical theory in the hospital of Santa Maria Nuova. In 1502, he entered the service of Cesare Borgia as a military engineer, during which time he met and became friends with Machiavelli. During this second Florentine period, Leonardo painted several portraits, but the only one that survives is the famous Mona Lisa (1503-1506, Louvre), one of the most celebrated portraits ever painted. It is also known as La Gioconda, after the presumed name of the woman’s husband. Leonardo seems to have had a special affection for the picture, for he took it with him on all his subsequent travels.
 


Mona Lisa


In 1506 Leonardo returned to Milan, at the summons of its French governor, Charles d’Amboise. The following year he was named court painter to Louis XII of France, who was then residing in Milan. For the next six years Leonardo divided his time between Milan and Florence, where he often visited his half-brothers and half-sisters and looked after his inheritance. In Milan he continued his engineering projects and worked on an equestrian figure for a monument to Gian Giacomo Trivulzio, commander of the French forces in the city; although the project was not completed, drawings and studies have been preserved. During this time he painted St Anne, Mary, and the Child ( 1508-1513, Louvre, Paris ). From 1514 to 1516 Leonardo lived in Rome under the patronage of Pope Leo X: he was housed in the Palazzo Belvedere in the Vatican and seems to have been occupied principally with scientific experimentation. During the period he did paint John the Baptist ( 1513-1516,Louvre, Paris ). During this period at the Vatican he shared the stage with Michelangelo and Raphael. In 1516 he travelled to France to enter the service of Francis I. He spent his last years at the Château de Cloux, near Amboise, engrossed in philosophy and science until he died on May 2, 1519.

Louvre Glass Pyramid

The novel that IM Pei's structure contain 666 (the Devil's number) of glass panes. There are in fact 673 panes, 603 diamond panes and 70 triangular panes.
 

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