|The Last Supper, 1495-98, Leonardo da Vinci|
Quite apart from the painting, Leonardo seems to have been concerned with numbers as he conceived the work. There are four groups of three apostles each. The background is composed of three walls upon which hang four tapestries, while the center wall is broken by three windows. The number three, of course, is associated with the trinity while the number four, the four elements, earth, air, fire, and water, as well as the four seasons. Also, in medieval philosophy, there were three theological and four cardinal virtues. Leonardo departed from earlier versions of the scene (yes, he was not the first, nor the last, to depict it), in his placing of Judas (his elbow resting on the table), Peter, and John in the first triad on Jesus' right. He considered them the most important figures in the unfolding events of Christ's mission here on earth--Judas in his betrayal, Peter in later leading the Church, and John in foretelling the second coming and the last judgment.