Before reading this article, turn to “Understanding the Sistine Chapel and Its Paintings.” The plan of the Sistine Chapel ceiling and the photographs in the article will be especially useful for understanding details in the larger context of the Chapel and its complete ceiling.


Leonardo’s work was commissioned by Ludonico il Moro for the refectory of the Convent of Dominican friars at Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan. The “Last Supper” was probably begun in 1495 and finished by 1498.


The Kress Foundation collected, researched and cleaned a very large body of medieval, Renaissance and baroque old masters’ paintings, and then dispersed them in groups to museums all over this country. The Foundation research and dispersal center was the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C., which still owns the largest and finest group of Italian paintings from the Kress Collection.