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vico. Leonardo had made the profoundest anatomical studies for the horse. When the first model of the monument was finished, it was carried in a festal procession, as the most splendid part of the pomp, and was unfortunately broken. With unwearied patience Leonardo began a new one, but from the want of means -a want which pressed upon Lodovico in the latter years of his government—it was never cast; and when Milan was conquered by the French, in 1499, the model was made to serve as a target by the Gascon crossbowmen.
His second great work was the Last Supper, painted in the refectory of the convent of S. Maria delle Grazie, on a wall 28 feet in length, the figures being larger than life. The fate of this inimitable picture is not less tragical than that of the statue. Had it been practicable, as Francis I. desired, to break down the wall and carry the painting into France, sixteen years after it was finished, it might have been preserved perhaps to our day. The determination of Leonardo to execute the work in oil-colours instead of fresco, in order to have the power of finishing the minutest details in so great an undertaking, appears to have been unfortunate. The convent, and probably the wall on which the picture is painted, were badly constructed, and the situation of the wall between the kitchen and refectory was far from favourable. An inundation, too, happened in Milan in 1500, owing to which the refectory remained for a time partly under water, and the bad masonry of the hall, already predisposed to damp, was completely ruined. From these and other circumstances the colours had entirely faded as early as the middle of the sixteenth century. In 1652 a door was broken open, under the figure of the Saviour, which destroyed the feet. Under a false pretext of giving it a coat of varnish, the picture was entirely painted over in 1726 by an unfortunate bungler named Belotti. In 1770 it was retouched a second time by a certain Mazza, from whose miserable work three heads only were saved. In 1796, when Napoleon led the French over the Alps, he gave express orders that the room should be respected. Succeeding generals disregarded these orders: the refectory was turned
1 Gius. Bossi, Del Cenacolo di Lionardo da Vinci, Milano, 1810.-Goethe's Works, xxxix. 97.
into a stable, and afterwards into a magazine for hay, etc. Now, when the ruins of the picture only exist, a custode has been appointed, and a scaffolding erected to admit of closer examination—not of Leonardo's work, for almost all trace of it has disappeared, but of its sad vicissitudes and of the outrages which have been committed upon
it. As the original is all but lost to us, the cartoons which Leonardo sketched of the single heads, before he executed them in the large size, are of the greatest interest, as are also the copies executed for various other places, partly by his scholars, partly even under his own immediate direction. The cartoons are executed in black chalk, and slightly coloured ; the Head of Christ is in the Brera at Milan; ten Heads of the Apostles, some of them of enchanting beauty, are in the collection of the King of Holland at the Hague ; three others in private collections in England. Several slight sketches are in the Academy at Venice; an original drawing, a study for the whole composition, is in the Royal collection of drawings at Paris. Among the numerous more or less accurate copies, those by Marco d'Oggione, a scholar of Leonardo, are particularly distinguished; one of these in oil, the size of the original, was formerly in the Certosa at Pavia, and is at present in the Academy in London; another is in the refectory of the convent at Castellazzo, not far from Milan. There have been many modern attempts, aided by these materials, to restore the composition of Leonardo in a worthy manner : among these may be mentioned the engraving of Raphael Morghen, and (more especially) the cartoon of the Milanese painter Bossi, the size of the original, now in the Leuchtenberg gallery at Munich. From this cartoon Bossi painted a copy in oil, to be repeated in mosaic. The mosaic is in a church at Vienna. By these means a general idea at least of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper has been preserved.
We perceive, in the first place, that the traditional style of composition handed down from an earlier period is adhered to; the assembled guests sit on the further side of a long narrow table, Christ being seated in the middle—the most dignified of all arrangements, unless we give up the idea of a repast, like, for example, Luca Signorelli and Fiesole, who
rather represented the Sacrament of the Eucharist. The arrangement seems, moreover, particularly suitable to the refectory of a convent, where the monks are seated exactly in the same manner, and where the picture, placed opposite to their tables, connects itself with their circle, but is exalted above them by the higher situation and greater size of the figures. This mode of composition, which betrayed the earlier artists into a disagreeably stiff and monotonous representation, and seems so unfavourable to the development of an animated action, is here enlivened in the most varied manner, while a most naturally imagined connection reduces it to an harmonious whole. The figure of Christ forms the centre; he sits in a tranquil attitude a little apart from the others: the Disciples are arranged three and three together, and they form two separate groups on each side of the Saviour. These four groups in their general treatment indicate a certain correspondence of emotion, and a harmony in movement, united however with the greatest variety in gesture and in the expression of the heads. The gradations of age, from the tender youth of John to the grey hairs of Simon; all the varied emotions of mind, from the deepest sorrow and anxiety to the eager desire of revenge, are here portrayed. The results of Leonardo's careful studies in physiognomy, the power of expressing a definite idea and word by means of the countenance and movements of the hand, are here displayed in highest mastery. The well-known words of Christ, “One of you
shall betray me,” have caused the liveliest emotion in the sorrowing party. Christ himself, his hands extended, inclines his head gently on one side with downcast eyes. A sketch for the head of Christ, on a now torn and soiled piece of paper, preserved in the gallery of the Brera, expresses the most elevated seriousness, together with divine gentleness, pain on account of the faithless disciple, a full presentiment of his own death, and resignation to the will of the Father; it gives a faint idea of what the master may have accomplished in the finished picture. The two groups to the left of Christ are full of impassioned excitement, the figures in the first turning to the Saviour, those in the second speaking to each other; horror, astonish
ment, suspicion, doubt, alternate in the various expressions : on the other hand, stillness, low whispers, indirect observation, are the prevailing expressions in the groups on the right. In the middle of the first group sits the betrayer, a cunning, sharp profile; he looks up hastily to Christ, as if speaking the words, “ Rabbi, is it I?” while, true to the Scriptural account, his left hand and Christ's right hand approach, as if unconsciously, the dish that stands between them.
It has already been remarked that great uncertainty prevails about many of the works ascribed to Leonardo, and that by far the greater part are the works of his scholars. Leonardo could never satisfy himself; he painted slowly, and left many works unfinished, which is also accounted for by the many interruptions to his artistic life. Those ideas and conceptions, nevertheless, to which his mind gave birth, however slight in form, were sufficient to occupy the labours of a whole school, and to imprint on it the stamp of his genius. The entire series of his original inventions is only known by the works of his scholars. We shall in the following pages mention only the more important of them. Among the smaller pictures executed by Leonardo in Milan, the portraits of two ladies beloved by Lodovico Sforza, Cecilia Gallerani and Lucrezia Crivelli, are particularly celebrated; the first is said to be in Milan, the second in Paris. This latter is that earnest and exquisitely beautiful head called “ La belle Ferronière.” Though bearing traces of that severe school which reminds us of the art of the fifteenth century, it is of unusual delicacy of modelling, and at the same time free from that artificial effect of chiaroscuro which belongs to the less pleasing side of Leonardo's school. In the collection of the Ambrosian Gallery at Milan is a series of very interesting small works. Among them may be distinguished the portraits of Lodovico and his wife painted in oil, in the early and rather severer manner of the artist : also some portraits sketched in crayons; among these, a Head of a Lady with downcast eyes is in the highest degree charming yet dignified. Also the half-length figure of a youthful John the Baptist (in the Louvre), belonging probably
[Dan, in his Trésor de Fontainebleau, published in 1642, calls this a Duchess of Mantua. See Dr. Waagen, Kunstwerke in Paris, 1839.-Ed.]
to the earlier period of the master. A very decided effect of chiaroscuro is, however, here aimed at, with an expression of enthusiastic ecstacy, wrought up to a pitch which borders on the sentimental.
One of Leonardo's most famous pictures, La Carità—a mother with several children, also belongs to the period of his residence in Milan; it was formerly in the old gallery at Cassel, and is now come to light again, as it appears, in the gallery of the Hague. It formerly represented a naked figure of Leda, standing, with the two children-some scruples of decorum have converted it by over-paintings into a Charity.
Besides these, there are many excellent originals by Leonardo in Milan and the surrounding country, as well as numerous copies of the same subjects by his scholars, which attest his full employment in that city. Among these latter is a Madonna and Child, formerly in the possession of the Araciel family. The Madonna holds the Child with both hands; he reaches his hand to her chin, as if to kiss her; his face is still turned to the spectator, towards whom she also looks, as she bends down her head. The expression of the whole is fascinating, and the picture beautifully finished. A half-figure of a Mater Dolorosa, too, is grand and noble, with the most touching expression.”
1 Rumohr (Drei Reisen in Italien, p. 70) says of this picture,—“In this work, of which I have a lively recollection, I distinctly recognise the scholar of Verocchio, and the companion of Lorenzo da Credi, whose children these much resemble; only that there is more intelligence here in every partmore depth of character and expression. In the countenances of the mother and the children, especially of the little one upon her arm, there is an expression of grief and longing which I cannot describe. The picture was called a Carità. Italian painters of later times have represented similar groups under the same name, but always in the form of a mother delighting in the blooming offspring around her. Leonardo, however, seems to have departed from this obvious sentiment. It was his nature to overlook that which lay nearest to him. He either intended, by the mournful and longing expression he has given to the group, to allude to the idea of the lost Paradise, or he had some other mystical thought in view, to which those who afterwards adopted the subject had lost the key. As far as I remember, this picture was painted in oil. For this reason, and also because Vasari makes no mention of it, I am inclined to consider it a production of his Milanese time. The opaque, violet, local colour of his carnation agrees with the portraits of Lodovico Sforza and his wife, which are in the Ambrosiana Gallery at Milan." See also a notice by Passavant, Kunstbl., 1844, p. 118.
? On both compositions, see Fumagalli, Scuola di Lionardo, &c., before quoted.