While most often associated with Florence, the city at the center of the Italian Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci spent 17 years early in his career working for the Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. This past weekend Umbra Students taking the Special Topics in Art History: Leonardo Da Vinci course left Perugia for a field trip to see some of da Vinci’s most celebrated works in Italy. When Da Vinci left Florence in 1482 to go to Milan, he left behind his unfinished first commission, the Adoration of the Magi. Students visited the Uffizi Gallery in Florence Friday to see this piece, and then hopped back on the bus for a sunset drive past the rolling landscapes of Italy’s breadbasket, the Po River Valley. First thing Saturday morning, students had a chance to see one of da Vinci’s most precious works, the Last Supper at the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie.
As one of the great innovators of his time, da Vinci had a habit of constantly inventing and trying out new methods for fresco painting. Unfortunately, the technique da Vinci used to paint the Last Supper for his patron Duke Ludovico Sforza was not one of his great successes, and the fresco has undergone numerous restorations over the years in an effort to preserve what little remains. Visitors may only enter in groups of 15 at a time, and must enter the room through a serious of vaccuum-sealed glass doorways to maintain a precise level of humidity in the former dining room of the convent. Despite the tight security, the Last Supper remains a truly impressive piece, and students all agreed it was worth the early wake-up on a Saturday morning.
After leaving Santa Maria delle Grazie, the class spent the rest of the first day of spring under a perfect sunny sky day taking in the Milan Cathedral, the Sforza Castle, and the first gorgeous day of spring in Milan.
Da Vinci students posing with Professor Adrian Hoch in front of the fountain at the Sforza Castle in Milan.