The Secret and Sacred Geometry of Leonardo’s The Last Supper by Hayward Gladwin

The following article is written by MW Team Writer:

Hayward Gladwin

The Secret and Sacred Geometry of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper

sacred geometry hidden secrets

Leonardo

For the era of its making, Leonardo Da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” was a triumph of art historical proportions. The work incorporated features of perspective, narrative and visual motion at a level perhaps not achieved elsewhere to such a degree at any time prior. Commissioned by Ludovico Sforza (The Duke of Milan) in 1494, the work is housed where it was originally painted– at the monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan, Italy. It is a painting which has long since challenged viewers, partly in recognition of Leonardo’s baffling painterly skill, but also with respect to the subject matter being depicted both at its surface and that “encrypted” beneath it.

Several theories surrounding the alleged truth about this enigmatic painting have emerged over the years. Some have propositioned that the painting shows the controversial figure of Mary Magdalena being positioned next to Christ at the table. Some have described how the gestures of the Apostles seemingly represent hand gestures which are secretly found in Masonic rituals. Others have spoken about the symbolism of the 12 stations of the Zodiac and the Sun being represented by Christ and his surrounding 12 apostles. Yet, as curious these theories might be, there is perhaps another level to the work which could be of deep interest; that being the structure of the work’s visual composition and its relationship to Sacred Geometry.

For The Last Supper, Leonardo used a ‘one point perspective’, a composition device of pictorial design which at his time was relatively new, as its first examples are found just a little bit earlier in the Renaissance. A prime example would be Masolino’s ‘St. Peter Healing a Cripple and the Raising of Tabitha’ from 1425. In such a work, the viewer can readily recognize how the orientation of the edges of the building structures conform to a series of lines with a common point of reference.

sacred geometry Raphael

 

Sacred Geometry last supper leonarda da vinci

The Last Supper

In the case of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, this perspective is also evident through the structure of where the scene takes place. The architecture of the building clearly demonstrates a single point perspective being used as in the previous example. Another name for this single point perspective is the painting’s ‘vanishing point’. Leonardo’s vanishing point appears to meet at the right eye of Christ. The lines of the ceiling and the lines of the wall openings in the hall all meet at this point. However, there are other points we can extend to as well.

Sacred Geometry last supper Leonardo da vinci

The Last Supper: Revealing hidden lines

By drawing four more lines to incorporate features in the lower half of the painting, we can extend this radial pattern to span most of the painting’s circumference. Here we use the upper corners of the table top, as well as two diagonal lines that appear in the painting between the lower tablecloth and the bottom of the frame.

sacred geometry last supper leonardo da vinci

The Last Supper showing details

By doing so we have produced 12 lines which seem like obvious points of connection in the painting. Although we could continue drawing a few more lines at this point, perhaps it is worth taking a pause here and step back a bit for a moment.

To reflect on what it was that had prompted me to begin a search for Sacred Geometry on The Last Supper was somewhat multi-faceted to begin with. For awhile, I had been researching some ideas that came to light through the Maranatha puzzle book. Remembering now that on the reverse cover it was stated:

“This ‘Key’ was devised to unlock the
greatest treasure known to history.
To some that treasure is called ‘Nicolas Flamel’s Philosopher’s Stone’,
But to most it is called the
‘Holy Grail’
Nicolas Flamel Discovered it,
Leonardo da Vinci Encoded it…..”

I’ve thought long about what Leonardo might have ‘Encoded’, and how this related to the ‘greatest treasure known to history’. In the Timeline at the back of the book, there are several dates that connect historic events with the events described in the book. Of these events, in 1483 it states that:

“Leonardo da Vinci paints ‘The Virgin of the Rocks’, the specifically named painting which holds a message of the painter’s initiation to an understanding.”

But then for 1650 there is another event that is described in almost exactly the same way:

“Nicolas Poussin paints his second self-portrait, a painting that holds a message of the painter’s initiation to an understanding.”

Taking these two events into consideration, it dawned on me that the “message of the painter’s initiation to an understanding” could in fact be the tilted hexagram geometric “key” which followers of the Maranatha book and its ensuing saga should now be very familiar with. However, we have only seen the “Key” being demonstrated on Poussin’s “The Shepherds of Arcadia” and another painting made by Teniers, “St. Anthony and St. Paul in the Desert” so far.

Yet, it was also revealed through the “Time Monk Project” article on Andrew Gough’s former site ‘Arcadia’ that the same geometry demonstrated on the “Shepherds” painting could also be found in Poussin’s second portrait. Shortly after the article had come out, I made an attempt at reproducing this geometry on his painting. Here were the results:

sacred geometry Nicolas poussin

Poussin 1650 Self Portrait

Thus, if the Poussin painting were to involve this geometry, and, if this were also meant to reveal his “initiation to an understanding”, then it followed reason to look for the same geometry in Da Vinci’s “Virgin of the Rocks”. I attempted this somewhat recently.

sacred geometry leonardo da vinci

Virgin of the Rocks

With these two paintings now “accounted” for (in terms of holding “a message of the painter’s initiation to an understanding” and what that might potentially mean) I then moved on to see if this could shed any light on other elements in the timeline. For the entry 1495, it states that:

“Leonardo paints the Last Supper and encrypts a message.”

So now, at this point, in addition to Leonardo’s “initiation to an understanding” (assuming it as the tilted hexagram key), we have this to consider as well; the possibility that he encrypted a message in The Last Supper. Take a moment if you will to compare the language found in the timeline with the language on the back cover of the book. In the timeline it states the he “encrypts a message”. On the back it states that “Flamel discovered it, Leonardo encoded it”. And what was it again that Leonardo encoded? Allegedly, the very thing in which the “Key” was devised to “unlock”. That being “the greatest treasure known to history”, the “Holy Grail”.

From this, we might conclude that what is being illuminated here is that the “Key” (the message of the artists’ initiation to an understanding) was devised to “unlock” the very thing which Leonardo encrypted –ie, had encoded– in The Last Supper.

Which brings us back to the vanishing point of Leonardo’s The Last Supper. While considering the relationship of the 12 apostles to the 12 signs of the Zodiac, it is rather simple to consider the first 12 lines drawn so far to establish the compositional vanishing point as being supportive of the same idea. This idea being that the Sun and the heavens are connected to the characters in the painting through such symbolism. There is, however, further cause through available evidence left by Leonardo to reevaluate this from another angle.

While investigating the oeuvre of Leonardo’s work, particularly when it comes to the subject of geometry and composition, it is impossible to overlook his contribution to Pacioli’s “De Divina Proportione” (On the Divine Proportion, first edition 1509). In this book, Pacioli describes how the Golden Ratio relates to architecture, visual perspective and geometry. Accompanying this book is a series of approximately 60 illustrations of regular, geometric solids drawn by Leonardo Da Vinci himself. The role of the Platonic geometric solids plays a central role in this work. As Pacioli states:

“…just as God confers Being to Heavenly Virtue, by another name called Fifth Essence, and by its mediation, to the other four simple bodies, that is, to the four elements earth, water, air and fire, and, through these, to every other thing in nature, so this our sacred proportion gives the formal being – according to the ancient Plato in his attributing to heaven the figure of the solid called dodecahedron , otherwise the solid of 12 pentagons, which, as will be shown below, is not possible to make without our proportion. “ (translation by Dr. Jonathan Tennenbaum, John P. Scialdone, Richard Sanders, “Luca Pacioli’s 1498 On the Divine Proportion”, 2005)

The five bodies referred to here by Pacioli are of course the five platonic regular solids: the tetrahedron, the hexadedron (cube), the octahedron, the icosahedron, and the dodecahedron mentioned above. Of worthy note is that fact that the dodecahedron has 12 faces, which is of course similar to number of lines drawn so far, as well as the number of the apostles. And, as Pacioli states above, the dodecahedron was equated by Plato with the heavens, which again confers with the idea of the 12 stations of the Zodiac and the existence of the celestial sphere.

sacred geometry platonic solids

Platonic Solids

Getting back to Leonardo’s Last Supper then, it occurred to me to look for the presence of a geometric solid as the means for the painting’s composition. Most specifically, the dodecahedron. Using the very same drawing that Leonardo drew for De Divina Proportione, the results were quite astonishing.

sacred geometry platonic solids secret message last supper

The Last Supper and Revealing Leonardo da Vinci’s Hidden and Sacred Geometry

As one can see, the radial arms of the vanishing point confer with corners of the dodecahedron. The fact that the spacing of the lines in perspective match at exactly these points and at this ratio of division seemed quite convincing to me. All that was missing was the single line extending downward into the portal below.

What seemed to confirm this idea even further was that, upon closer inspection, the characters in the painting actually appear to be responding to the presence of the hidden shape.

Hidden shape in last supper leonardo da vinci

Last Supper

Two figures to the right of Christ, we see St. James the Great react and extend back with his arms open as if looking at the object. To the left of Christ we see the figure commonly identified as John leaning to the side, while one edge of the shape follows the line of his arm. The hand of Peter which is drawn across the neck of John marks the crossing of a line. The pointed finger of Thomas to the right even marks a point where an edge crosses over.

sacred geometry last supper secret code

Leonardo’s The Last Supper’s  hidden shape revealed

But furthermore, what seems to also acknowledge the shape is the outline of Christ’s shoulders, his palms and the center line beneath, creating a singular pentagonal face of the dodecahedron as we can see here. These clues all added up convince me that this sacred geometry was intentional.

In conclusion, it seems quite uncanny that the relationship between the corners of Leonardo’s drawing of a dodecahedron matched the radial vanishing point lines of this painting’s compositional perspective. So far, I have found one other researcher by the name of Sabrina Sforza Galitzia who agrees upon the possibility that Leonardo’s composition was based on this shape:

“Somewhat of a bone structure that God used to draw the universe according to the Greek philosopher, later portrayed by Raphael in the School of Athens’s fresco, personified by da Vinci that holds the book Timeus with his left hand while pointing to the sky with his right index finger. We learn from Pacioli himself that Leonardo for the perspective of the Last Supper mural used the dodecahedron built with the “holy” or divine proportion.” (ASTRONOMY & The secret perspective of Leonardo and Pacioli, 2006 by Sabrina Sforza Galitzia)

If such is the case, then we are left to assume that it is through this geometry, or at least by some extension of it, which we can devise what Leonardo had encoded, or encrypted, in the Last Supper. If this is in fact the “lock”, or by some means related to it, then the next step is only to discover the relationship between the key and the 3 dimensional geometry.

But are we meant to look at just the dodecahedron, or is there more to this picture? Before departing, perhaps we can take a cue from the work of Johannes Kepler:

sacred geometry kepler secret code

Kepler’s Sacred Geometry

“I propose to show that God, in creating the universe and arranging the spheres, had in view the five regular solids of geometry, and fixed by their dimensions the number, proportions and motions of the spheres.” (Mysterium Cosmographicum, 1596)

Kepler was well known to have developed the initial stages behind the idea that the platonic solids are significantly interrelated. As the picture above shows, the corners of one related to the vertices of another. If we are going to “turn the lock in the key” then perhaps THIS is the point which it transitions upon.

 

~ by MW Team Writer: Hayward Gladwin

Copyright 2017 by Hayward Gladwin. All Rights Reserved.

 

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31 Responses

  1. Jenny Kile says:

    Excellent discovery and article, Hayward. The path you followed and then guided us on was truly an experience to be enjoyed. So much hidden and to be found! Thank you for sharing your amazing work with us.

  2. 23kachinas says:

    Hayward, thank you for taking the time to write this an include the geometric interpretations. Made my morning to see it here at MW so near to Good Friday.

    Have you heard of the hidden music? https://youtu.be/018pS-2q35I

  3. HaywardG says:

    23kachinas- Happy to oblige. The timing does seem uncanny!

    Interesting theory re: hidden music. Not so convinced –yet– about what determines the placement of the music staff, but as Alessandro Vezzosi states, ” It is plausible”. Thanks for sharing.

  4. Nate Beck says:

    Hayward! I didn’t expect your next article this “soon” lol. It really is awesome.

    In my opinion, I think you’ve found the Key to fit in Leonardo’s ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ perfectly!

    The geometric layout seems undeniable. The funny thing about the ‘Virgin of the Rocks’ is when you ask an art scholar why the characters are gesturing their hands like they are, they just gawk at you with a stupid stare! Modern art scholars just haven’t a clue at all lol.

    I like where you’re going with the Lock idea. I keep trying to get Duncan to budge on more information about the Lock, but you are definitely on the right path, IMHO!

    So cool…

  5. HaywardG says:

    Hi Nate- to my eyes, Poussin was very technical and observant with his work but Leonardo was just so very “lyrical” that it is almost visceral. So many layers, too which is how we probably end up with so many interpretations.

    I feel very convinced by both.

  6. Rubyfelixir says:

    QUOTE
    “With regard to his use of perspective, Leonardo was successful in employing it to create an entension of the refectory and thus provides an illusionistic effect.
    There have been discoveries of how Leonardo made use of this artistic measure. A hole into which a nail had been driven has been found, located in the temple of Jesus. The location is the key spatial focus of Leonardo’s painting of the Last Supper. He drove a nail into the wall and radiated string in various directions to help him see the perspective of the room he was painting.”

  7. HaywardG says:

    Perhaps a little bit higher than the right eye, if you look more closely at the image, there appears to be a little “dot” there. Interesting!

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4b/Última_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5.jpg/1200px-Última_Cena_-_Da_Vinci_5.jpg

    This is curious as well:
    Temple (anatomy)
    Etymology
    “Regarding the temporalis muscle: in English, this muscle’s name is the time muscle. The word temporalis comes from the Latin word tempus meaning “time.” The muscle covers the temporal bone, or time bone, which received its name because the hair of the head covering this bone is often the first hair to turn gray during the aging process. Therefore, this region is the first to show the effects of aging.[1]”

  8. Nate Beck says:

    Jenny and Hayward!!!!! I Just had a breakthrough!!!!! You really want to get a book by Castells called Genuine Secrets In Freemasonry Prior to 1717!

  9. Nate Beck says:

    Yes! When Duncan said it all had to do with a mysterious Name known only to the divine and creation, he was alluding to the answer that really does tend to go right over peoples heads. It shows that the very reason this geometry ‘works” is because there is a Divine force that is a kind of proof behind it. Had alot to do with the power of initiation they can be seen in the sacraments, hence why Duncan recommended the works of Hugh of St. Victor!

  10. Nate Beck says:

    Also, the symbol on the cover of the Maranatha books is in fact the labrys, which was a symbol of the beginning of creation, kind of served the same purpose As Jachin and Boaz!

  11. Nate Beck says:

    All one has to do is read Genuine Secrets in Freemasonry prior to AD 1717 by Francis de Paula Castells with Hugh of St. Victor’s On the Sacraments of the Christian faith’ translated by Roy Deferarri and pair that with Duncan’s Time Monk Project article and voila! It’s so simple, you’ll miss it!!!

    Now I know why Duncan said that if someone just handed you the secret, you probably wouldn’t value it enough! It’s simple but profound in its implications!

  12. Nate Beck says:

    The connection between Castells’ work and Hugh of St Victor’s is the nature of God in relation to creation, which in turn is related and expressed in geometry and math. What Duncan NEVER made clear enough is that the KEY ACTUALLY IS THE ANSWER. It’s kinda like Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy, where the Ultimate Answer to the Ultimate Question is 42, but unfortunately no one knows what the question is! What goes on in Freemasonry IS the question!

  13. Nate Beck says:

    However, I must confess that I can’t get a major part to fit Duncan’s other reveals. But Duncan has dropped this subject like a hot rock, just like his humblemason blog, and IIIII know whyyyy…. He couldn’t get certain things to fit together either! Personally, I’ve decided to guide but not tell, cuz personally I don’t want to go through life looking over my shoulder…..but I will be writing an article I consider “Biblically safe”.

  14. HaywardG says:

    @Nate- I think I get what you’re getting at, but I’m not sure. The way I’ve looked at the key, in the sense of creation, is related to a concept some others have referred to as “evolution” and “involution”. In the sense of evolution, we go from the circle (G_d), the triangle (G_d in the sense of the trinity, father/son/spirit -or- G_d/mother/father, etc., depending on your definition), then we get to the square (matter/earth/man/manifestation). In between these two “destinations”; G_d the circle and Man the square, we have the completion of the hexagram. The hexagram representing the “heavens”, the 6 classical planets (Mercury, Venus, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn) with the Sun (spiritual light) as the center point.

    Thus, in terms of “involution” or “initiation” the process is essentially the reverse of G_d’s plan of creation. We start with the square and work through this order “inward” towards the circle.

    Is this related to what you are talking about? Or is it more specific of a thing than that? It sounds like what you are talking about is more specific.

  15. Nate Beck says:

    Hi Hayward. Yes I agree that everything you say there applies, but also you are correct that what I found is a specific piece of info. Out had to do with your previous article about how the hexagram “touches” BOTH the edge of circle AND the square. Lawlor’s Sacred Geometry book has the same observation about the Solids toward the end of the book!

  16. Nate Beck says:

    You can say it had to do with a balancing act between two or three worlds lol.

    • HaywardG says:

      Wow. Ok good, so it seems we’ve been looking at the figure that touches the 3 worlds in the same way. The way I had been considering this is that the hexagram in this instance becomes the figure that has one foot in the “divine” (G_d/circle) and one foot on earth (man). The hexagram is the initiate who has be “raised” to such position.

      Regarding Lawlor: Ok, I actually got something that was related by both Lawlor and Castells in their texts that I think is what you’re talking about. Let me know go back and check on this again.

  17. Nate Beck says:

    Hayward!!!!!! Your last comment about does it!!!!!!

    What I found in Hugh of St. Victor is how the divine and human connect which I then tied to what I know about Masonic ritual. BUT you can’t reveal Masonic ritual without pissing alot of people off!

    I am too well known in Masonic circles to be safe, so perhaps you can run with this from the books you now know to focus on???

    • HaywardG says:

      !!!!Well it seems I have the IDEA then but then not really what the “visual” is exactly which ties it together. Not interested in offending Masons whatsoever, but definitely interested in knowing what it is.

      Does Lawlor actually portray the answer (which might easily be overlooked) or is more a “clue?”

  18. Nate Beck says:

    Hi Hayward,

    No Lawlor doesn’t have it specifically, it’s only the bit on the overlapping Platonic Solids that’s a clue. Umm, amazon.com DOES have a copy of the Aldersgate Royal Arch ritual for fifteen bucks if you want to purchase that, THAT includes a bit on how the Platonic Solids play into the Royal Arch ritual’s Triple Tau!!!!

  19. Nate Beck says:

    Hi Hayward,

    It really all has to do with how one thing contains the properties or characteristics of another entirely different thing, and how this then relates to human life and creation.

    I am currently working on an article that explains everything I found, but it’s going to take some time to formulate how best to explain it and put it all together to where it makes sense and also keeps me out of trouble.

    I really am sorry for being so vague, but I have so many threads and loose ends running through my mind that it’s hard to put everything in order. I have had to come back to it many many times, but I also have to let it sit on a back burner many times so I don’t go crazy over it. Very disturbing….very awesome….dangerous and delightful all at the same time, which teaches me to be cautious with it.

    I promise though, that article is coming!

    • HaywardG says:

      Sounds great Nate!! Whereas I now have multiple ideas that might what you are talking about I guess I’ll just have to wait and see what it is that is being de-scribed.

      • Nate Beck says:

        Hi Hayward and Jenny

        I regret to inform you that what I found is definitely NOT the lock for the Maranatha Key. This has been confirmed by both myself and my Freemason friends. I’m disappointed, but the search continues.

        What I found was a shocking way to look at the Trinity that is discussed by both Hugh of St. Victor and St. Bernard of Clairvaux about how the body, soul and spirit of man mirrors the Father, Son and Spirit and how the Fall of man severed that and how Incarnation of Christ affected the unity of the Trinity as well, and how it is man’s purpose to find that cause and repair it, just like the loss of Hiram Abif and the Temple is to be repaired in Freemasonry, mirroring the human and divine nature of man, and how this relates to the three shapes of the Hexagram Key and the circle square and triangle and how adding the same shapes in a certain configuration allows you to rotate the hexagram and get something else. However, I couldn’t get the rotation and adding I was working on to work and so do not see how the two are connected at all. My friend who is in the very same Masonic orders as Duncan, confirmed that this is not it.

        C’est la vie

        Very sorry.

        • HaywardG says:

          Hi Nate! No apologies necessary. Its all a mystery to us.
          But for what it is worth, I personally see immense value in the way you describe the relationship between the shapes, the rebuilding of the temple and how they relate to the steps taken by mortal and spiritual “man”. This might not be the “big secret” of Freemasonry but is no less valuable IMO.

  20. Nate Beck says:

    Well thanks Hayward 🙂

    I might do an article on the thing anyhoo. Hope you like my new one, coming right up 😉

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