"Hold on," Sophie said. "You told me the Holy Grail is a woman. The Last Supper is a painting of thirteen men."

"Is it?" Teabing arched his eyebrows. "Take a closer look." 

Uncertain, Sophie made her way closer to the painting, scanning the thirteen figures -- Jesus Christ in the middle, six disciples on His left, and six on His right. "They're all men," she confirmed.

"Oh?" Teabing said. "How about the one seated in the place of honor, at the right and of the Lord?"

Sophie examined the figure to Jesus' immediate right, focusing in. As she studied the person's face and body. a wave of astonishment rose within her. The individual had flowing red hair, delicate folded hands, and the hint of a bosom. It was without a doubt... female.    The Da Vinci Code  (2003)  p. 243



John 13.21 After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, "I tell you the truth, one of you is going to betray me." 

22 His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. 23 One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. 24 Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, "Ask him which one he means." 

25 Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, "Lord, who is it?" 

26 Jesus answered, "It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish." Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas Iscariot, son of Simon.



Mary Magdalen is not the figure to Christ’s right in Leonardo’s Last Supper. Since Leonardo’s time, this disciple has been understood as John and was labeled “Johannes” in an early sixteenth-century copy. The absence of a chalice in Leonardo’s painting means nothing. This more historically accurate rendering of a meal which had cups but no chalice is found in about one in three Italian renderings between 1300 and 1500 and is consistent with Leonardo’s naturalism. Unmentioned at the Last Supper in Scripture (or in any of the Apochryphal gospels), the Magdalen is almost never included in depictions of that event. Only two images including her are presently known to me. Both add her as a fourteenth figure, placed submissively at Christ’s feet in front of the table. Leonardo could have added the Magdalen to his Last Supper but he would not have removed one of the disciples. ~ Robert Baldwin  Associate Professor of Art History at Connecticut College

I hate to think that people might take Brown’s interpretation of Leonardo as truth. It’s absolutely not. ~ Sarah Blake McHam  Art History Professor at Rutgers University

Along with trashing Christianity, Dan Brown’s The Vinci Code is a veritable museum of errors where Renaissance art is concerned. Art historians have been slow in responding, mostly because it is difficult to know where to start. The novelist’s imaginative notions of iconography may make for best-selling fiction, but they are wildly at variance with what is known about the life and work of Leonardo. ~ Elizabeth Lev  Art History Professor at Duquesne University

St. John was invariably represented as a beautiful young man whose special affinity with Jesus was expressed by his being seated at Jesus' right. Leonardo's St. John conforms to this type, and parallels for the absence of a chalice appear in earlier Italian examples. ~ Bruce Boucher  Curator of European Decorative Arts and Sculpture at the Art Institute of Chicago 

The best thing about the book is the imaginative and creative fiction he's created out of these paintings. You have to give the author some credit for that. But speaking as a historian, it's unacceptable. ~ David Franklin  Chief Art Curator at the National Gallery 

Vargas: “Isn’t it possible that is a woman next to Jesus?”

Wasserman: “No, of course not.”

Vargas: “It looks like a woman.”

Wasserman: "No it doesn’t."

Vargas: “Why don’t you think so?”

Wasserman: “Because it looks like a young male. I see no breasts. The fact that he has long hair, so does Christ have long hair, so does James the figure with his arms stretched out, have long hair, so does that figure second from the left have long hair.”

Vargas: “But all the other figures, their faces look distinctly masculine, while John’s looks quite feminine.”

“Yes, the matter of the fact in most representations of the Lord’s Supper in Florence he looks like a, he’s a very, very young man.” ~ Jack Wasserman  Professor of Art History at Temple University



The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci  1498


Cosimo Rosselli  1481-82


Jacopo Bassano  1542


Dieric Bouts  1464-67


Andrea del Castagno  1447


Daniele Crespi  1624-25


John the Baptist (Leonardo's Last Painting)  1515