Last Supper Comparisons

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The sixteenth century witnessed the dramatic transformation from the symmetrical simplicity and preciseness of the High Renaissance, to the asymmetrical ambiguity and elegant illusion of the Mannerist Period. The Last Supper, a common theme in Renaissance painting, depicts Christ surrounded by his twelve disciples, seated at a long dining table. Leonardo da Vinci, the great, ambitious, pioneer of painting during the High Renaissance, illustrated consistency and symmetry in his version, while Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto, painted his Last Supper with dramatic power, depth of spiritual vision, and glowing color: common characteristics of Mannerist paintings.

Leonardo da Vinci exhibited astounding mastery of painting in his Last Supper. Christ and his apostles are seated at the table set parallel to the picture plane in a simple, spacious room. The composition is balanced: there are two groups of three apostles on either side of Christ. Da Vinci placed the group in an austere setting, showing his purpose to emphasize the dramatic action. The dramatic nature of the scene is further stabilized in conjunction of the Eucharist and the realization, "One of you is about to betray me." Judas sits alone at the end of the table with his face covered in shadow; however, he is in fact sitting with the apostles, creating stability, and exemplifying Renaissance art.

Tintoretto had reached the end of his life when he painting his Last Supper. His art had become more spiritual and visionary. In his representation of the Last Supper, the figures appear in a dark interior. The light source lies in the upper corner of the painting. The twelve apostles are seated around the table, with shimmering halos to show their importance. Judas, however, sits on the other side of the table, creating asymmetry and imbalance. Tintoretto did not adorn Judas with a halo, showing the viewer Judas' betrayal of Jesus. In the upper corners, swirling clouds of dark are shot with light,...
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