Da Vinci's iconic depiction of Easter's beginnings has a violent history it barely survived


Last Supper Leonardo da Vinci

Wikimedia Commons

Let's take a closer look at this Renaissance masterpiece.


On Sunday, millions of people around the world will celebrate Easter.

Easter is the celebration of Jesus' resurrection, and one of the most famous images from that story is Leonardo da Vinci's "The Last Supper." It's an iconic Renaissance masterpiece that's been praised, studied, and copied for over 500 years.

Against all odds, the painting still lingers on the wall of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan.

Da Vinci began the work in 1495 or 1496 and completed it around 1498. It depicts a famous scene from Holy Thursday, in which Jesus and his Apostles sharing a final meal before his death and resurrection. During the dinner, Jesus revealed that one of his disciples would betray him and hand him over to the authorities for execution (spoiler alert: It was Judas, who da Vinci depicts as spilling salt on the table, as part of some Renaissance pun).


Historian and author Ross King spoke with Business Insider about the mural. King said that his own lifelong fascination with da Vinci - who, as a painter, sculptor, inventor, and scientist, was really the ultimate Renaissance man - prompted him to write the book "Leonardo and the Last Supper."

"I was intrigued by him as a character - an artist, a scientist, a mountain climber, a rock collector, an all-around genius," he said.

Here's the story of "The Last Supper," which survived wars, prisoners, and its artist's identity crisis: