This painting is an allusion of the Christ' history and one of the versions of the “Last Supper.” It is most similar to the classical mural Leonardo da Vinci created in the period of 1495 to 1497 in the monastery in Italy. Apart from his predecessors, Leonardo introduced a dramatic feature into his painting, presenting it as a scene of betrayal. He wanted to show the real people, through the images of apostles, the individual reactions to the happening event in their own way.
According to the artist's idea, the “language of the flowers” is able to translate the tints of the feelings, evoked by the famous words of Christ: ”One of you will betray me.”
In this painting there is a metaphor of the whole spectrum of all 12 apostles' characters developing before our eyes. It is the expression of movement and confusion, running like a wave through the apostles after the words of Christ. It is the furious stretching of the arms- the stems with the silent question reaching towards the Christ. It is the bowing of their “heads” in front of the Inevitable and the thoughtful browsing through the “Book of Destinies”, trying to find an answer. It is also a cowardly turning away, hiding into the “hood”. It is the metaphor of the broken nut, revealing its “hidden plots”.
The usual interpretation allows the viewer to easily find Judas among the apostles – he is geometrically and imaginary opposite to the Christ. If the Christ is open to the sun and to the Kingdom of Light, Judas is hiding his face into the “hood”, representing the Kingdom of Darkness.
The subtle psychological differentiation, based on the diversity of the faces and gestures, can be expressed with the “language of the flowers”, showing the contrasts according to the Leonardo's version.
The cut-off grape branch placed on the edge of the table symbolizes the Christ's loneliness on this Earth as the god's son. “I am the true vine, and my father is the vine grower”, says Christ in the Gospel of St. John. The vine becomes a spiritual symbol of regeneration and the Eucharist; the fermented juice of its grapes is Christ's blood.
The head of Christ is turned to the sky, as if looking up to the Father, who sent him to the Earth to save the human souls. Only the Christ knows what his true mission is: instead of merely supporting the Kingdom on Earth, he brings the Heavenly Kingdom to the people. He foresees his own destiny and knows his soul is already in a different space. This exit into the different space is anew in the imaginary depiction of the event.
The very choice of the "Last Supper" allusion as a flower's gathering or in the garden isn't just at random. In the ancient traditions the image of the ideal world is often lost and gained in paradise. In the Gospel of St. John Maria Magdalena did not recognize Christ standing behind her back, thinking that it was a gardener. The history of the Christ after his arrival to Jerusalem is presented by the development of the flowers- symbols:
Palm branches symbolize the triumphal arrival of Jesus to Jerusalem and the greeting of Jesus -the king.
The broken Pomegranate symbolizes the crucifixion of Christ and his blood.
The grapes are the symbol of the spiritual revival (as well as a symbol of Christ' blood)"
The vine wrapping around the "Sunflower" stem, aiming to his heart, is the symbol of betrayal and of the future at the same time.
The butterflies are the symbol of the resurrection. They create an unusual halo around the head of Christ, pre-announcing the celebration of the resurrection.
The language of the flowers allows the artist to present in a "natural" way the thousand-year drama that appeared between the Christ and Judas.
The choice of Roman Coliseum as the stage setting is also not just at random. It symbolizes the time when Roman Empire reigned over the land of Israel. It was Pontius Pilot, who made that fatal decision and was one of those who talked to Jesus. The "realm of evil" the Roman power are symbolically framed by the bow of Coliseum.
S. Dali: "studying the morphology of the sunflower made me to think that this gathering of dots, shadows and curvatures has a somewhat thoughtful look, exactly matching the deepest melancholy of Leonardo da Vinci as a person"
Truly, The Sunflower contains a large amount of the seeds which implies to its symbolical meaning of people' destinies and Christ’ teachings.
The metaphor of the flowers is one of the favorite metaphors in the symbolical language the artist uses to express his understanding of modern society. It would be enough to mention just a few of his other paintings, such as "Arrival of the Flower Ship", Music of the Woods", "Garden of Eden", etc.
Amongst the flowers representing the apostles there are: Bird of Paradise, Calla Lily, Cyclamen, Milk Thistle, Daisy, Heliconia, Anthurium, Fly Catcher, Orchids and Dahlia.