posted on Mar, 29 2006 @ 09:29 PM
Alright, took a bit of research, but I can address the feminine qualities of John in The Last Supper by DaVinci.
During the middle ages, art began the progression into what we now know as art of the renaissance. There are several elements that led to DaVinci
painting John in the Last Supper in such a feminine manner, or what we perceive as feminine.
As many of you probably know, the Renaissance began in Italy and spread throughout Europe. In Florence in the late middle ages, a tradition had
developed of painting people with a pale delicacy. This can be seen in many pieces of art out of this time, including a young Leonardo DaVinci
painting the Annunciation with a very feminine yet male angel displaying “his highly individual sweetness and softness of style.” (Demvir,
Bernard. Art Treasures Of Italy, 1980. A&W Publishers: New York p. 81)
This tradition can also be seen in Andrea Mantegna’s painting of St. George, Perugino’s Deposition, Carpaccio’s The Dream of St. Ursula and
Sauoldo’s Tobias and the Angel as well. All were painted with a pale delicacy given to some of the men or angels, but not all. This, at
first, seems odd. However, the reason only some gained this honor is because they were seen as greater than men. Their features were smoothed, their
skin pale, and their appearance soft because the artists were trying to convey an ethereal element to the individual. They were not entirely of this
world, but had a foot in the spiritual world as well.
So why John? Why not Peter, or James? Those two were part of the core three members of Jesus’ disciples who were with Him when the others were told
to wait. Throughout the book of John, the Apostle John is always referred to as the one whom Jesus loved. The synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and
Luke) do not give John this title, but they do show that John was probably the closest to Jesus of all the disciples. John had a special place; he was
the one who laid his head on Christ’s breast, he was the one of those who went with Jesus to pray when Elijah and Moses came to speak with Christ,
he was the one whom Christ predicted would not taste death. He was special in many ways. Because of this, DaVinci painted him in that special,
ethereal quality that he painted his angels with.
This tendency was common throughout the time. When you look just at The Last Supper without looking at the art of the time as a whole, yes, it does
appear that John was actually female in the painting and people got the identification wrong. However, when you look at all Italian art from the
period, you will find that that exists in many paintings. Several you will look at and assume the individual painted is a female until you read the
title of the painting (Mantegna’s St. George is a great example). Holiness was depicted by using lighter colors, softer lines, and what we see today
as feminine qualities, though the intent was that of asexual qualities. These individuals were above the rest of mankind, held back by their flesh.
[edit on 3/29/06/29 by junglejake]