(b. 1449, Firenze, d. 1494, Firenze)

Last Supper

Abbazia di San Michele Arcangelo a Passignano, Tavernelle Val di Pesa

Ghirlandaio painted the scene of the Last Supper on several occasions within the space of a few years. In all three works of his that still remain, the basic arrangement is the same as that in the fresco by Andrea del Castagno in the Florentine Cenacolo di Sant'Apollonia dating from about 1450. The disciples are sitting at a long table in front of a rear wall that runs parallel to the picture plan. Christ is sitting in the centre, and His favourite disciple John is leaning sadly against Him. To the right of Christ, in the place of honour, is the chief Apostle, Peter. Judas the traitor is the only one to be separated from the others: he is seated in front of the table.

The earliest example of the Last Supper was painted in 1476 by Ghirlandaio in the abbey of San Michele Arcangelo a Passignano (in Tavernelle Val di Pesa, near Florence). This is strongly influenced by Andrea del Castagno. The Apostles and Christ are sitting together in a room with a flat ceiling that appears to be too low. Judas is sitting opposite Christ on a three-legged stool in front of the laid table. The figures are set back some distance from us, to a depth of three large floor tiles. The various emotions of the Apostles are indicated by stiff hand movements that scarcely seem alive and express little of the character of the individuals.