and the twelve stones of Heaven
This book, however, was born of a personal observation: preparing a presentation on Leonardo’s masterpiece, and observing its fine details one day I focused my attention on the precious green stone that Leonardo painted on Christ’s neck. It felt like I had never seen it before and yet it was not the first time that I had examined the painting; indeed, I knew the details of the stones but never, until that moment, I had wondered what they meant.
Yet, in painting the Last Supper, a great work ‘whose every detail was finished’ and with the addition of many descriptions, the artist left nothing to chance. Nor did he give free rein to his imagination with no meaning attached. Why then did he paint these stones and where did he source his iconography? What message was he trying to communicate and on what basis did he choose his stones when he chose to associate them with the apostles and the Divine Master? (extracted from page 117)
We must also bear in mind that Egyptian amulets were much appreciated and exported all over the Mediterranean basin, to the extent that in designs for hòshen, the Jewish breastplate worn by high priests, the Jews were perhaps inspired by the golden breastplates worn by the pharaohs, also embellished with precious stones of all kinds in addition to the Egyptian shen, an ancient amulet also used in Mesopotamia as a symbol of divinity. The Jews’ knowledge about constellations was perhaps brief; however, considering that astrology was born in Chaldea (the Jews were exiled there in VII-VI cent. BC), (extracted from page 130)
Jacopo da Varazze’s comments in the Genoa Chronicle are also interesting: during the First Crusade, taking part in the 1101 capture of Caesarea, Genoese soldiers under the command of Guglielmo Embriaco found the bowl that Jesus ate the Last Supper from and Nicodemus used to collect the blood of the Lord…A century later, Wolfram von Eschenbach (1170 ca.-1220 ca.), knight, and perhaps Templar.169 drew on the French versions of Chrétien de Troyes and a mysterious Kyot de Provence, (extracted from page 156)
In the Renaissance, pearls, precious gems and stones were set in central pendants, necklaces and brooches to be applied on clothes. Especially pins and large brooches were pinned on belts, corsets and capes to emphasize richness and refinement of taste. The precious ornament research involved both women and male fashions, accessories such as hats, gloves, fur and even boots had to have an applied jewel, as evidenced by the extensive Renaissance portraiture. (extracted from page 168)
Although he used to define himself as ‘man without academicstudy’, the artist also attends public libraries, where he had access to scientific manuscripts. It is therefore logical to think that the focus and rigor that the artist devoted to the painting design, from the prospective plant to the distribution of the figures on the table, to the vegetation that adorns the bottom of the tapestries, were also adopted in order to study the details considered ‘minor’, as the stones-bezel, which at the time had not gone unnoticed. (extracted from page 172)
Figuration itself had generated discordant opinions among the friars: the triad on the right of Christ appeared squeezed up and their heads were too close; Leonardo had then painted Peter with the knife in his hand, ready to hit the high priest’s servant in the ‘Garden of Olives’, while his left hand was going to fit under John’s chin.
The discontent among the friars had to be general, and the climate of exasperation had often caused discussions between the brothers. (extracted from page 173)
To understand his conceptually valid choice, we must assess the significance that the stones had in antiquity. We know that from ancient civilizations onwards precious stones have been accorded great importance. They have been considered good omens and peacemakers, symbols of spring, responsible for awakening positive moods, the chance for regeneration and the force for good encompassed by the earth. On the heart of the Egyptians mummies they kept a green beetle, symbol of rebirth, while in the Bible the color indicated the vitality of the fair. (extracted from page 197)
Lastly, a final assessment of the number of stones that appear in the Last Supper concerns the astronomical level. The Renaissance still held in high regard the celestial phenomena, as the same Ludovico il Moro feared them to the point of referring to Ambrose Varese from Rosate, his doctor and astrologer, to schedule meetings and political affairs. As Berdini recalled, at that time mathematics, astronomy and astrology were closely related and equally endowed with esoteric meanings. (extracted from page 211)
Would you like to know the hidden Truth in Leonardo’s Last Supper and the meaning of precious stones painted by the Master?
Book dimensions 16.8 x 24cm (6.6″ x 9.4″ in.), 232 pages.
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