Last Supper by Jacopo Bassano
The Last Supper (1542) is a painting by Jacopo Bassano, an alternative approach to the artworks of his contemporaries. The artist was inspired by the older and more famous masterpiece, The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci. Today, the painting is in the Borghese Collection in Rome.
In the 16th century, especially in Venice, many images of the Last Supper departed from the horizontal formality illustrated by the Da Vinci version, making the characters more active and putting them into modern working-class types with bare feet. Bassano was an early follower of this iconography.
This painting is to be identified with the painting that the Venetian nobleman Battista Erizzo commissioned from Jacopo in 1546, paying for the work in these installments at the beginning of 1548. In 1650 the artwork was in the Galleria Borghese, and after being included in the inventory of 1700 under the name of Titian, it was attributed to Andrea Schiavone.
It has been suggested that Tintoretto’s Last Supper, intended for the church of San Marcuola in Venice and finished in August 1547, is the model for this painting. However, it is more likely that Tintoretto was inspired by Jacopo’s artwork, which, according to the dates of the commission and payments, was the first to be created.
The Last Supper was executed as a typical oil painting using the same materials as the other Venetian artists of the 1800s. There are many details about this artwork, especially in the light of the painting that inspired Leonardo’s version of this moment in the life of Christ. Unlike the linear, smooth lining and organization of the twelve apostles present in the Da Vinci masterpiece, the work of art by Bassano expresses a more unorganized scene. This scene can be argued in many aspects to more closely match the realistic approach of the fishers. However, regarding the unity of this painting, it was not in the slightest degree to be the whole purpose of this work.
Bassano’s Last Supper shows his new interest in Mannerism in Italian art. As part of the work, he expressed the influence associated with the modern engravings of Dürer and paintings by Raphael. This is especially expressed in the subjects’ highly charged emotions and the figures’ dynamic and stylized poses.
To analyze the disciples and Jesus from left to right, you can see that two of the disciples in the upper left corner of the painting are talking to each other. In contrast, the one, which is further to the left wearing a kind of iridescent pink, and the other is emerald green. These two colors are commonly used throughout this artwork. The two disciples under them are separated from each other. The bottom one, who wears a pink top, similar to one of the characters mentioned above, does not talk with the disciple in black over him but talks with a person in a slightly dark green top right across the table. The looks and gestures of the hands of the man in a pink shirt are serious and, in some sense, bewildered – a topic that is characteristic of most people in this scene.
The man in black is above him and is not talking to anyone. He sips from a cup of red wine, not looking at anything other than the table. Almost certainly, this man in the dark dress, who looks into his drink, is himself a traitor, the disciple of Judas Iscariot. An older man in brown clothes can be grouped in the same proximity as these two, although in some respects, he is distinguished by a special, strange pose and a knife in his right hand. In the next two, it seems that Jesus and the redheaded disciple form the artwork’s center. However, the way Jacopo Bassano portrays this is different from the image of his contemporaries in that Jesus lags behind someone and is almost in the background, but at the same time, is of great importance and is part of the central point of the picture.
Further to the right, the three following disciples are looking older. The other two seem to speak minimally, looking sadly at contemplative looks. One looks down at the ground, and the different looks in the viewer’s direction with the same sad eyes. The other two, the furthest to the right of the artwork, are depicted in similar poses. On the front and in the center, there is a glass of wine on the table, the red color of which is shaded on the tablecloth resembles blood that will be shed tomorrow and will mix with the water that flows from Jesus. This water itself is symbolized by a jug on the floor, which repeats the shape of a glass.