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Comparing this project with the painting, we see that, as at first conceived, the Last Supper contained a number of realistic motives, perhaps rather over-familiar for so solemn a theme. As he progressed, the artist gradually abandoned them. Thus, he suppressed the gesture by which one of the apostles put down the glass from which he had begun to drink, and the gesture of the apostle holding a loaf he had cut in two. Of the two knives spoken of in the note,
only one appears in the painting, in the hand of S. Peter. There is no apostle shading his eyes with his hand, either. In short, the action, though less lively and dramatic, becomes more imposing, and gains in elevation.
A drawing in the Windsor Library, in which a disciple shades his eyes with his hand, is undoubtedly connected with this design. It further contains S. John, his head on the tablecloth, and another apostle who approaches Jesus with a reverent inclination of the body. Leonardo, we must conclude, had for a time some thought of representing the institution of the Eucharist, a theme often treated by the Byzantines, and one which Justus of Ghent had illustrated a year or two before in a picture he painted for the Duke of Urbino.
A sketch on the same sheet, the intention of which it is difficult to seize, shows a group of ten persons at table, and Judas placed alone on the opposite side, as if he were already excluded from intercourse with the other disciples. A little later Leonardo broke away from tradition on this point. Instead of following the example of his predecessors and isolating Judas on one side of the table, like a diseased sheep, he conceived the more dramatic idea of placing him side by side with his victim ; from this proximity he evolved a motive of the most poignant mimetic expression: the explosion of surprise and indignation among the disciples at the Master's revelation of the treachery among them.
We may sum up by saying that the primitive conception of the scene was more or less violent; the master gradually tempered and disciplined his action, and it is the expression of condensed and latent power in his final rendering to which he owes his most brilliant triumph.
Sketches for single figures follow on those for the composition as a whole. The majority are in the royal collection at Windsor. I may first call attention to a study in red chalk for the head of the apostle on the extreme left; the beard is as yet short and slight (no. 8); another drawing in the same medium (no. 9), a head in profile to the right, is a study for the beardless apostle on the right, the third from the end, who holds out both hands towards the Saviour. (There are also certain points of resemblance here to the apostle on the extreme left of the composition.) The red chalk drawing (no. 10) is a beardless head in profile to the right; it is for one of the apostles on the left. No. 11 is apparently the same head, rather older. The attitude is identical with that of Judas in the painting, and there can be little doubt that this study was the master's first thought for this justly famous type. A drawing in black chalk (no. 17) is another head, of an energetic cast, in profile to the right, with crisp, curling hair, and a short