Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King

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King asks all the customary iconographic questions, and helps us to imagine what the mural must have looked like...
-Guardian

Synopsis

In 1495, Leonardo da Vinci began what would become one of history's most influential works of art―The Last Supper. After a decade at the court of Lodovico Sforza, the duke of Milan, Leonardo was at a low point: at forty-three, he had failed, despite a number of prestigious commissions, to complete anything that truly fulfilled his astonishing promise. His latest failure was a giant bronze horse to honor Sforza's father, made with material expropriated by the military. The commission to paint The Last Supper was a small compensation, and his odds of completing it weren't promising: he hadn't worked on such a large painting and had no experience in the standard mural medium of fresco.

Amid war and the political and religious turmoil around him, and beset by his own insecurities and frustrations, Leonardo created the masterpiece that would forever define him. Ross King unveils dozens of stories that are embedded in the painting, and overturns many of the myths surrounding it. Bringing to life a fascinating period in European history, he presents an original portrait of one of history's greatest geniuses through the lens of his most famous work.

 

About Ross King

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Ross King is the highly praised author of Brunelleschi's Dome (the Book Sense Nonfiction Book of the Year in 2000), Michelangelo and the Pope's Ceiling (on the New York Times extended bestseller list), The Judgment of Paris, Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power, and two novels, Ex Libris and Domino. He lives outside Oxford in England.
 
Published October 30, 2012 by Walker Books. 352 pages
Genres: History, Arts & Photography, Travel, Biographies & Memoirs, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Leonardo and the Last Supper
All: 4 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by Michiko Kakutani on Oct 29 2012

Mr. King provides a lively account of Leonardo’s continual hunt for faces he might sketch, and speculates about the identity of the models...that he might have used to create the faces of Jesus and the apostles.

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Guardian

Excellent
Reviewed by Charles Nicholl on Oct 19 2012

This apostolic self-portrait remains an intriguing possibility, nonetheless: more food for thought from a book that offers an engaging and unusually intimate view of one of the great icons of western art.

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Peter Conrad on Sep 01 2012

King asks all the customary iconographic questions, and helps us to imagine what the mural must have looked like...

Read Full Review of Leonardo and the Last Supper | See more reviews from Guardian

Toronto Star

Good
Reviewed by Jennifer Hunter on Oct 19 2012

King’s book is a worthy read for those interested in Leonardo.

Read Full Review of Leonardo and the Last Supper | See more reviews from Toronto Star

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Diane Bellora

Diane Bellora 5 Sep 2013

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