Nov 11, 2013

Da Vinci’s Cup: A Lesson in Humility

Ethan Ballinger

Ethan Ballinger

Da Vinci’s Cup: A Lesson in Humility

The Last Supper showcases the scene of the last supper between Jesus and his disciples, as it is told in the Gospel of John.  Da Vinci depicted the exchange that occurred between Jesus and the 12 disciples when Jesus informed them that one of them would betray him.

Not only is Da Vinci’s work among the most recognized worldwide, but it is also among the most hotly debated.  The Last Supper has been a target of speculation by writers, historians, and film directors.  Most of this speculation involves supposed hidden messages or hints within the painting, as seen play out in The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown.

Interestingly, Da Vinci’s most important contribution to The Last Supper may be something that he left out of the portrait all together.  It was 1498 and Leonardo Da Vinci had just completed his last stroke of The Last Supper.  As the tempera dried, Da Vinci stepped backed and admired the truly amazing work of art he had created.  Seeking affirmation, Da Vinci invited one of his closes friends and confidants to view the work of art.  Upon viewing the portrait, his attention was drawn to one detail in particular.  “The cup in Jesus’ hand is especially beautiful”, noted Da Vinci’s friend.  “What a beautiful cup Da Vinci had crafted; with glimmering, precious jewels, wrapped in ornate, polished gold.  This was truly a cup that would be worthy to touch the lips of Jesus”, added Da Vinci’s friend.  After discussing the painting in more detail, Da Vinci showed his friend the door and promptly removed the cup from the painting.

Later, when Da Vinci’s friend saw the altered painting he inquired as to why Da Vinci removed such an elegant part of the portrait.  Da Vinci responded that, “Nothing must distract from the figure of Christ.”  Da Vinci was willing to put the subject of his painting ahead of his own celebrity, so that viewers could behold the true beauty and majesty of his subject.

In consulting, we are often in a similar place that Da Vinci was.  The solutions we provide may only be responsible for a small portion of our client’s business, similar to how small the cup was to The Last Supper.  However, our work may be just as impactful to our clients as the cup was to Da Vinci’s friend.  Like Da Vinci, we need to be mindful and respectful of what our client’s goals are and do everything in our power to not take any attention away from them or their work.

In the end, our client’s success is our success.

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