Wednesday, March 19, 2008

The Last Supper

Not my last supper but THE Last Supper. I was able to snag one of the 10 remaining tickets for the next 3 months to get in and see the famous DaVinci painting. It was a long day for the 15 minutes I was allowed to view it. There was the boat to the train station. The train for 2 1/2 hours to Milan. The underground Metro in Milan to the Duomo. And finally, the old fashioned Milan tram from the Duomo to the church of Santa Maria delle Grazie where the painting is housed next door in the refractory. Whew!

I am not impressed with Milan but since I am not impressed with New York, this is no surprise to me. Its a chaotic city crammed with people and modes of transportation that dont seem to be following any sort of rules of the road. While I am not a country girl, a city like this is just too much sensory overload for me.

The Duomo is beautiful and I cant help but make the reference to the Duomo in Cologne...the resemblance is striking (both the dark grey nature inside as well as the spires outside) except that they have obviously cleaned the Milan one and the Cologne remains black with centuries of smoot.

The church of Santa Maria delle Grazie is in the middle of what looks like a residential area (albeit on a tram line). Its a smaller, red brick, unassuming church but has great beauty on the inside. I thoroughly enjoyed walking around there. And the blooming magnolia trees (I think thats what they were) gave me the long awaited sign that spring might actually be just around the corner.

The Last Supper is next door to the church in this drab yellow building which is nothing more than a reception area, small gift shop (of course) and the refractory. The refractory has no windows, rectangular in shape and the 2 longer walls are completely empty of any artwork or paint. So, that leaves you with the Last Supper on one side and a painting of the crucifixtion on the other side and 4 benches along the wall.

After entering through the security doors to maintain the oxygen/humidity levels, there it was. It was a strange feeling looking at it (all 15 feet by 29 feet of it!). I was not impressed because I have seen it so many times in my life but yet, I was highly impressed because I was looking at for the first time!

The latest restorations have removed the previous restorations attempt at paint and have therefore taken it back to the colors it was originally planned in. However, to the layman, the painting actually looks worse after the restoration (as most of us in our group commented on). I am not sure how far they are planning on going in the restoration--will they make it look like it was just painted yesterday at some point, or is this the end?

Obviously no pictures are allowed because of the sensitive nature of the item. However, I couldnt help but wonder what kind of damage is being done by the woman who gets on the loud speaker every 15 minutes and yells 'Please Exit' with such force you can almost feel the walls vibrate.

I bought my dutiful souviner picture and bookmark and made my way back by the various modes of transportation to Venice. A very long day but I am truly glad I was able to see one of the greatest works of art in all the world.


Gil said...

Sounds as if you have the patience of a Saint in that you took the time and all of the effort to see the painting.

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John 13 includes the account of the washing the feet of the Apostles by Jesus before the meal. In this episode, Apostle Peter objects and does not want to allow Jesus to wash his feet, but Jesus answers him, "If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me." after which Peter agrees.
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