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Friday, April 14, 2017

The Last Supper

The Last Supper
Learn about the history and meaning of the Last Supper, which depicts the Last Supper of Jesus with his disciples. Oil, tempera, fresco, 1495-98 (Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan). Created by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker.

On the evening before his death, Jesus calls his disciples together for supper, which will be his last. Before the meal he washes the feet of everyone attending. During the meal Jesus discloses the fact that he will be betrayed by one of his twelve followers. He shares the bread and wine, generally considered symbols for his body and blood. The Last Supper is described most clearly in the Gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke.

This dramatic gathering has been a source of inspiration for the visual arts. The first paintings of The Last Supper were quite static - as can be seen in the works of Duccio (1308-11) and Ghirlandaio (1480). All figures are nicely seated in their chair, despite the fact that they have just learned of their master's coming betrayal.

A difficult problem for all painters of the tableau is the grouping of the figures. Duccio chose a reasonably credible one: everyone is seated around a table. A drawback of this grouping is that the faces of some of the followers are not visible. Ghirlandaio has them seated behind a long table opposite the traitor Judas, who sits alone.

Leonardo da Vinci effected a breakthrough with his Last Supper (approx. 1495-98). Not only is Judas fully included in the group, but the figures are engaged in lively interaction. Da Vinci's fresco inspired numerous Renaissance artists and Baroque painters. Despite many restorations, the most recent in 1999, the work is in bad condition, due to the technique used on the wall, which has insufficient sticking power. In addition, the hall was used as a stable for some time, and bombed during World War II.

The Catholic Church annually commemorates the Last Supper as the Holy Supper, on Maundy Thursday.

The Last Supper in other languages:
French: La sainte cène
Le mot "cène" vient du latin "cena" qui signifie "repas du soir". Ce mot "cena" se retrouve d'ailleurs en espagnol et en italien, et, dans ces deux langues, signifie couramment "souper". Voici la définition qu'en donne le Dictionnaire Larousse :  "1- La Cène : dernier repas de Jésus-Christ avec ses apôtres, la veille de sa Passion, au cours duquel il institua l'eucharistie. 2- La sainte cène : communion sous les deux espèces (pain et vin), dans le culte protestant." 

Italian: Il Cenacolo
Communion of the Apostles, by Fra Angelico, with donor portrait, 1440–41

Spanish: La Última Cena

The Last Supper- Ethiopia
 Brazilian Painting of the Last Supper (2013)


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