The Last Supper Essay

894 words - 4 pages

The Last Supper

The Last Supper was a very powerful Biblical event, in which Jesus and his disciples

gathered for one final dinner together. According to the Bible, important events took place

during the Last Supper, including an announcement by Jesus that one of his disciples

would betray him and the first communion. To artists in the fifteenth and sixteenth

centuries, it was necessary to give proper deference to such notable occurrences. Both

Leonardo da Vinci and Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto, took upon the challenge of

recreating the Last Supper. While Last Supper by da Vinci and Last Supper by Tintoretto

are very similar in subject matter, they differ in composition, symbolism, and the choice of

narrative moment.

     The Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is the first great figure composition of the

High Renaissance and the definitive interpretation of its theme. Jesus and his twelve

disciples are seated at a long table that is parallel to the picture plane. The room is

spacious and peaceful, and Christ has his arms spread in disposed trust . The rest of the

group is in intense and dramatic excitement, with their hands out in shock and question at

Jesus’ words. The viewer can just feel the tense excitement sweeping through the groups

of disciples. Jesus, the most important figure in the painting, has been placed in front of

three windows that are in the back of the room, and he is framed by the center window

with a curved pediment that arches above his head. His head serves as the focal and

vanishing point of this piece, and your eye is immediately attracted to it. Da Vinci has

arranged the disciples into groups of three and tied all the groups together through their

hand motions giving this piece a symmetrically aesthetic feeling. Your eye is taken on a

journey through the oval-shaped composition of the piece, but it is clear that Jesus serves

as the vital magnet. The Last Supper by Tintoretto is a beautiful Mannerist-style painting

in which the painter creates a revolutionary type of composition. The piece’s surface plane

now shoots in a diagonal motion and Jesus is noticeable only because of the light around

his head. There is a feeling of unsure commotion throughout the figures as they lean into

uncomfortable positions, such as the maid in the foreground. The figures also seem to

blossom in light through a darkness of the background. The two brightest areas, Jesus and

the light fixture, fight for the viewer's attention and create a sense of uncertainty,

perfecting what the Mannerist’s set out to accomplish.

     The use of symbolism in both Da Vinci’s and Tintoretto’s Last Supper is important

to the interpretation of each piece. Da Vinci is the...

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