(b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)

Christ Washing the Feet of His Disciples (detail)

c. 1547
Oil on canvas
Museo del Prado, Madrid

During the Last Supper Christ rises, wraps a cloth around himself, and begins washing the feet of the apostles. When Peter protests, Christ replies: "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shall know it hereafter." Tintoretto sets the scene in the interior of a palazzo with a view of a canal. The example Christ gives his disciples of humility and charity was ostentatiously imitated on certain occasions by the upper classes of Venetian society: the Doge used to wash the feet of twelve poor people on Maundy Thursday, and twelve of the 'nobili' and their ladies did the same in 1524 at the Ospedale degli Incurabili (a hospital for incurable syphilitics).