Last Supper

7:00 AM

Tintoretto, Last Supper, 1592-1594

Last Supper by Tintoretto is my favorite work in Art History so far. Tintoretto’s colors envelop observers and bring them into another realm, stuck somewhere between Earth and Heaven, between Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead and the Messiah’s own Resurrection. Last Supper displays Tintoretto’s mastery of light and dark and his rich color use.

As the only two sources of light in this painting, Jesus and the lamp, which symbolizes the light of God, illuminate the scene and enlighten Jesus' guests. Tintoretto created wax models and observed them from different angles to ameliorate his use of light in this painting. Like other artists of this time and Mannerist painters, Tintoretto utilizes an extensive range of colors, and his tones create an eerie atmosphere without inducing uneasiness, especially in regard to the cloud-like spirits enclosing the work and its subjects.

Tintoretto reinvents a frequently-painted Biblical story by showing Jesus and his disciples not head-on, but from a diagonal viewpoint. This opens up the picture to include what happened behind the scenes. Tintoretto recounts the full story with servants who prepare this meal, clean it up, and allow it to take place.

This painting has no clear vanishing point. The diagonal lines seem to continue on into the remainder of Jesus’ life and his impact on the world for millennia to come. Judas sits on the opposite side of the table, as in usual depictions of this event, to symbolize his betrayal of Christ. This painting of the Last Supper looks the least arranged and most natural, with Jesus and his disciples actually interacting.

Tintoretto brought out the humanity of the Last Supper in his painting by making it more realistic and by bringing it into an environment more relatable to his audience. The aesthetic appeal of this painting allows me to escape from the stress and pace of life into this ethereal setting. Tintoretto used color inventively in Last Supper and set himself apart by testing boundaries. This painting’s ability to simultaneously calm and inspire creates an indescribable feeling for me and reaffirms my interest in the study of Art History.


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