The Last Supper is a religious scene in the Catholic bible, which tells the story of the last meal the night before the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. An important role in its religion, the Last Supper scene has been recreated by artists many times. These visual interpretations of the event generally show Jesus, surrounded by his disciples. During the meal, Jesus breaks the bread and serves the wine accompanied with the command “Take this all of you and eat it… this is my body… do this in remembrance of me”. Three artists who have produced paintings of the Last Supper include Leonardo DaVinci, Jacopo Tintoretto and Salvador Dali. Each of these artists interpreted the religious event and recreated it in terms of their own beliefs, time, perceptions and intended audience.
Of those mentioned artist, the oldest version of the Last Supper was by Leonardo DaVinci in 1495 – 1498. Throughout this time period, the Roman Catholic Church had influential power in Europe. The Pope, based in Rome, acted as an unofficial leader of Europe and often commissioned artists to create artworks in Roman churches. These artworks were used to extend the public’s understanding of biblical stories as the population were for the most part illiterate at this time. Therefore in order to visually convey the religious themes, artists used many symbols to reveal full narratives through the artworks. This made Rome the centre of not only the religious world, but the art world as well.
Leonardo DaVinci was hired to paint a mural of the Last Supper in a monastery of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan. Its function was to visually represent the biblical story, which would be visible to the monks whilst they ate, to remind them of Jesus’ sacrifice and of the significance of the bread and the wine as it represented Jesus’ body.
This time also saw the stage of High Renaissance art. Renaissance meaning rebirth, was the revival of classicism. High Renaissance saw artists
Bibliography: SHEETS Renaissance and mannerism Italian Renaissance The Florentine School and the Portrayal of Male Youth by Shelley Essak “Master of all Sciences; Leonardo DaVinci” TEXTBOOK EXTRACTS Salvador Dali – ‘Artwise’ Tintoretto – ‘Focus Work’