Leonardo Da Vinci, a noted Italian artist painted the Last Supper; and
the time engaged for it's completion was seven years. The figures
representing the twelve Apostles and Christ himself were painted from
living persons. The life-model for the painting of the figure of Jesus
was chosen first. When it was decided that Da Vinci would paint this
great picture, hundreds and hundreds of young men were carefully viewed
in an endeavor to find a face and personality exhibiting innocence and
beauty, free from the scars and signs of dissipation caused by sin.
Finally, after weeks of laborious search, a young man nineteen years of
age, was selected as a model for the portrayal of Christ. For six
months DaVinci worked on the production of this leading character of
his famous painting.
During the next six years DaVinci continued his labors on this sublime
work of art. One by one fitting persons were chosen to represent each
of the eleven Apostles; space being left for the painting of the figure
representing Judas Iscariot as the final task of this masterpiece. This
was the Apostle, you remember, who betrayed his Lord for thirty pieces
of silver, worth in our present day currency $16.96.
For weeks Da Vinci searched for a man with a hard, callous face, with a
countenance marked by scars of avarice, deceit, hypocrisy, and crime; a
face that would delineate a character who would betray his best friend.
After many discouraging experiences in searching for the type of person
required to represent Judas, word came to Da Vinci that a man whose
appearance fully met his requirements had been found in a dungeon in
Rome, sentenced to die for a life of crime and murder.
Da Vinci made the trip to Rome at once, and this man was brought out
from his imprisonment in the dungeon and led out into the light of the
sun. There DaVinci saw before him a dark, swarthy man; his long shaggy
and unkempt hair sprawled over his face, which betrayed a character of
viciousness and complete ruin. At last the famous painter had found the
person he wanted to represent the character of Judas in his painting.
By special permission from the king, this prisoner was carried to Milan
where the picture was being painted. For months he sat before Da Vinci
at appointed hours each day as the gifted artist diligently continued
his task of transmitting, to his painting, this base character
representing the traitor and betrayer of our Savior. As he finished his
last stroke, he turned to the guards and said, "I have finished. You
may take the prisoner away."
As the guards were leading their prisoner away, he suddenly broke loose
from their control and rushed up to Da Vinci, crying as he did so, "O,
Da Vinci, look at me! Do you not know who I am?"
Da Vinci, with the trained eyes of a great character student, carefully
scrutinized the man upon whose face he had constantly gazed for six
months and replied, "No, I have never seen you in my life until you
were brought before me out of the dungeon in Rome."
Then, lifting his eyes toward heaven, the prisoner said, "Oh, God, have
I fallen so low?" Then turning his face to the painter he cried,
"Leonardo DaVinci! Look at me again for I am the same man you painted
just seven years ago as the figure of Christ."
It teaches so strongly the lesson of the effects of right or wrong
thinking on the life of an individual. Here was a young man whose
character was so pure, unspoiled by the sins of the world, that he
represented a countenance of innocence and beauty fit to be used for
the painting of a representation of Christ.
But within seven years, following the thoughts of sin and a life of
crime, he was changed into a perfect picture of the most traitorous
character ever known in the history of the world.