food in the arts




LEONARDO da Vinci/ ARTISTS BEFORE 1650/ ART MAIN film and food
 (b. 1452, Vinci, d. 1519, Amboise)

literature and food

Leonardo da Vinci was a Florentine artist, one of the great masters of the High Renaissance, who was also celebrated as a painter, sculptor, architect, engineer, and scientist. His profound love of knowledge and research was the keynote of both his artistic and scientific endeavours. His innovations in the field of painting influenced the course of Italian art for more than a century after his death, and his scientific studies—particularly in the fields of anatomy, optics, and hydraulics—anticipated many of the developments of modern science.

About 1482 Leonardo entered the service of the duke of Milan, Ludovico Sforza, 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 active also as an architect. In addition, he assisted the Italian mathematician Luca Pacioli in the celebrated work Divina Proportione (1509).

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).  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) was technically unsound, and by 1500 its deterioration had begun. Since 1726 attempts have been made, unsuccessfully, to restore it; a concerted restoration and conservation program, making use of the latest technology, was begun in 1977 and is reversing 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.

Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper
The Last Supper
Tempera on plaster
460 x 880 cm (15 x 29 ft.)
Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie (Refectory), Milan

Images Pinin Brambilla Barcilon and Pietro C. Marani

Leonardo completed his most famous work - the "Last Supper" - just before his patron, Duke Lodovico Sforza, died in 1499. At the time Leonardo was in the Duke's service, he learned a great deal about mechanics, science, mathematics and physics. Da Vinci would later use this knowlegde to invent the first flying machine.
Last Supper - detail of Table

music and food

  Leonardo's ethical vegitarianism
The Renaissance Kitchen

Leonardo da Vinci -

Last Supper (Art) - Phaidon Press - 
Leonardo da Vinci. The complete paintings and drawings (Taschen 25th Anniversary) (Amazon.Italy.) 
artists before 1650 bookshop (UK)