So this year I decided to use a different image for The Last Supper. This image is from the “North” as we Art Historians like to call it. During the Renaissance we have the South and the North. In the South we have Florence, and a move to more realistic images. In essence copying Giotto’s “window onto a world.”
However, in the North, we have England, Brussels, Holland, etc; i.e. Northern Europe. The North focused on other points of interest. They didn’t care about making things realistic or true to life, they instead would often have their figures dressed in modern clothes (using a lot of drapery), focused on patterns, and used lots of symbolism.
This painting is The Last Supper by Dieric Bouts the Elder. In this painting we have Jesus and all his disciples around the table, Judas more off to the side and easily spotted. While some disciples have their own little vignettes, most are wearing the same expression and not as involved in the scene, the focus being more on beauty and perfection rather than realism.
One factor of realism that they do follow is perspective, which you can clearly see from the ceiling and the floor. Just follow the lines of the beams.
Also in the background through a hatch, we have the servants waiting to serve the party. Many believe that one is supposed to be Dieric, painting himself into the scene.
This painting is often seen as the first Flemish painting of The Last Supper, and focuses on Jesus’ role of priest in preforming the Eucharist, rather than the betrayal by Judas.
“On the first day of the Festival of Unleavened Bread, when it was customary to sacrifice the Passover lamb, Jesus’ disciples asked him, ‘Where do you want us to go and make preparations for you to eat the Passover?’ So he sent two of his disciples, telling them, ‘Go into the city, and a man carrying a jar of water will meet you. Follow him. Say to the owner of the house he enters, ‘The Teacher asks: Where is my guest room, where I may eat the Passover with my disciples?’ He will show you a large room upstairs, furnished and ready. Make preparations for us there.’ The disciples left, went into the city and found things just as Jesus had told them. So they prepared the Passover. When evening came, Jesus arrived with the Twelve.”–Mark 14: 12-17
“Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, ‘Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.’ His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, ‘Ask him which one he means.’ Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, ‘Lord, who is it?’ 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, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, ‘What you are about to do, do quickly.’ But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out.”–John 13: 21-30
“While they were eating, Jesus took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to his disciples, saying, ‘Take and eat; this is my body.’ Then he took a cup, and when he had given thanks, he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will not drink from this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”–Matt 26: 26-29
“Do this in remembrance of me.”–Luke 22:19
For the previous painting, go to The Triumphal Entry
For more on The Last Supper, go to Do This in Remembrance of Me