One of Leonardo da Vinci’s greatest works is 500 years old and AllCollect has a coin to celebrate

Not only one of the most iconic paintings by the Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, but one of the most revered works of art in history, The Last Supper is a huge mural sited in a Milanese convent, that has been reproduced, parodied, reinterpretated and used for inspiration for centuries. It’s appeared on coins before, but for its 500th birthday, a special coin is required and AllCollect have done the honours.

Struck in a kilogram of fine 0.999 silver, the German producer has chosen the rectangular format to reproduce the rectangular original. It seems obvious enough, but you’d be surprised how often this work has been cropped to fit a round piece of metal. This way, we get to see it as the master meant it to be seen. It’s a classic work, with a fine sense of depth and perspective that was uncommon up to this period. The coin does a fantastic job with the reproduction, managing to completely avoid that ‘computer-render’ feel for something with an entirely hand-sculpted look.

The obverse plays off the artists habit of making notes written backwards. The reason he did this is unclear. He wrote normally when done for someone else to read, but his own notes were done in the reverse style. It may have been nothing more than a way to write without getting the ink on his hands or smudging his handwriting. The reverse text lists Da Vinci’s most famous works of art, along with their dates of creation, all in a facsimile of his original handwriting. A small ‘coin’ circle holds the Samoan issue details, including the ubiquitous effigy of Queen Elizabeth II. That’s an appropriate touch as the British Royal Collection holds over 600 pieces of the maestros work, much having be acquired during the reign of Charles II, when it was around 150 years old.

AllCollect have a reputation for some very high quality presentation, and this issue is no exception. A classically styled metal bound wooden box does a fine job of giving this package that special feeling, so if you’re an admirer of Leonardo and his work, you’re looking at one of the best releases we’ve seen in this anniversary year. It’s been a good year for Leonardo coins, in direct contrast to the appalling lack of effort the worlds mints invested in the bi-millennial commemorations of the death of Roman Emperor Augustus back in 2014. Available to pre-order now.

DA VINCI’S THE LAST SUPPER

The Last Supper is a late 15th-century mural painting by Italian artist Leonardo da Vinci housed by the refectory of the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. It is one of the Western world’s most recognizable paintings.

The work is assumed to have been started around 1495–96 and was commissioned as part of a plan of renovations to the church and its convent buildings by Leonardo’s patron Ludovico Sforza, Duke of Milan. The painting represents the scene of the Last Supper of Jesus with his apostles, as it is told in the Gospel of John, 13:21. Leonardo has depicted the consternation that occurred among the Twelve Apostles when Jesus announced that one of them would betray him. The apostles were identified by their names using a manuscript found in
the 19th century. (Before this, only Judas, Peter, John and Jesus had
been positively identified.

The Last Supper measures 460 cm × 880 cm and covers an end wall of the dining hall at the monastery. The theme was a traditional one for refectories, although the room was not a refectory at the time that Leonardo painted it. The main church building had only recently been completed (in 1498), but was planned by Ludovico Sforza to be remodelled as a family mausoleum. The painting was commissioned by Sforza to be the centrepiece of the mausoleum. The lunettes above the main painting, formed by the triple arched ceiling of the refectory, are painted with Sforza coats-of-arms.

For this work, Leonardo sought a greater detail and luminosity than could be achieved with traditional fresco. He painted The Last Supper on a dry wall rather than on wet plaster, so it is not a true fresco. Because a fresco cannot be modified as the artist works, Leonardo instead chose to seal the stone wall with a double layer of dried plaster, composed of gesso, pitch, and mastic. Then, borrowing from panel painting, he added an undercoat of white lead to enhance the brightness of the oil and tempera that was applied on top. This was a method that had been described previously, by Cennino Cennini in the 14th century. However, Cennini had recommended the use of secco for the final touches alone. These techniques were important for Leonardo’s desire to work slowly on the painting, giving him sufficient time to develop the gradual shading or chiaroscuro that was essential in his style.

The opposite wall of the refectory is covered by the Crucifixion fresco by Giovanni Donato da Montorfano, to which Leonardo added figures of the Sforza family in tempera; these figures have deteriorated in much the same way as has The Last Supper. Due to the methods used, a variety of environmental factors, and intentional damage, only little of the original painting remains today despite numerous restoration attempts, the last being completed in 1999.(Wikipedia)

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SPECIFICATION
DENOMINATION $25 Samoa
COMPOSITION 0.999 silver
WEIGHT 1’000 grams
DIMENSIONS 77.0 x 126.0 mm
FINISH Antique
MODIFICATIONS High-relief
MINTAGE 99
BOX / C.O.A. Yes / Yes
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