Leonardo and the Last Supper [audiobook review]


Last night I finished listening to “Leonardo and the Last Supper” by Ross King. As might be expected from this title, this book had a large focus on Leonardo da Vinci’s painting of the Last Supper.

the original painting went through a ton of abuse (including a bomb nearly blowing it up, and people scraping off the original paint)… da Vinci, although he had a great ability to paint, did an awful job of using the right materials to preserve the giant wall painting.

I was surprised how little seems to actually be know about Leonardo da Vinci. Much of what is known, seems to be speculation. Not even a portrait of da Vinci can be said to for sure exist.

As such, another large focus of this book is on the exploits of da Vinci’s patron (employer) who was a well known Duke, and the wars that surrounded the area. So not only do you learn about da Vinci and his famous painting, but you also learn some Italian history. The author gives a sense of how the people of this time must have lived.

The narrator (Mark Meadows) I thought was great. I don’t know how to speak Italian at all, but I enjoyed Meadows pronunciation of the Italian names and places.

I became curious about Leo due to the recently cancelled TV show “da Vinci’s Demons”.

a pretty cool (now cancelled) show about the fictional adventures of da Vinci. I enjoyed the first few episodes particularly as they actually seemed to reflect some of the known characteristics of da Vinci

The first few episodes portrayed a picture of such a charming person so curious about the world, that I wanted to learn more (side note: the TV show focused largely his early life in the city of Florence and it’s ruler, Magnifico, while this book focused on da Vinci’s later life in Milan and it’s ruler, Ludovico il Moro. I wonder if there’s a good book on da Vinci’s early life…).

To sum up, this was my first look at art history, and I enjoyed it. Anyways, below are a few notes I made along with their corresponding audiobook/audible times.


Section 2 / 00:15:56
Leonardo wanted to build weapons

Section 2 / 00:16:02
or design a monument

Section 2 / 00:18:58
do what others say is impossible.

Section 2 / 00:19:11
I wish to work miracles

Section 2 / 00:20:05
build hype when doubt comes in

Section 2 / 00:27:47
war used to be not violent. almost a chess game where nearly no one died

Section 6 / 3:01:43
rumour 200 years later that Leo had physical relation with his young male assistant

Section 6 / 3:01:57
in the 15th century, Florence was very well known as a homosexual city

Section 6 / 3:03:09
Leonardo was accused of homosexual relations

Section 6 / 3:21:58
Leo was left handed

Section 6 / 3:22:56
Leo wrote in reverse handwriting (so odd)

Section 7 / 3:32:48
another painter worked on another wall at the same time Leo did the Last Supper

Section 7 / 3:34:30
idea to pair artists off against each other to introduce competition

Section 7 / 3:50:17
nice way to end a story: have the narrator be dying

Section 9 / 5:00:35
the values of a society can change rapidly…. they can regress

Section 10 / 5:38:10
Leo seems to talk to himself in the third person often… referring to himself as “you”. interesting.

Section 11 / 6:03:02
Jesus was not originally portrayed as having a beard… until it became trendy

Section 11 / 6:11:08
Leo suspected that shell fossils would have a hard time reaching tops of mountains during Noah’s flood

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