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

Last Supper

Fresco, 400 x 880 cm
Ognissanti, Florence

This version of the Last Supper, executed in the refectory of the convent of the Ognissanti was executed in the same year as the St Jerome in the church. It is a famous example of the Tuscan tradition of depicting the Last Supper in monastic refectories.

The scene is ample and characterized by vivid, animated lines, as was his style, but it draws on the structural organization that was characteristic of Andrea del Castagno. The spirit is typical of Ghirlandaio, who as ever remains rather psychologically superficial and uninterested in any form of dramatic expression. Jesus and the disciples are not particularly characterized and seem peaceful and rather at ease; even Judas, who though seated on his own in front of Christ, according to tradition, has a serene countenance and composed posture. The figures are sitting isolated next to each other in a row, and are not connected in any inner way. The epochal step taken by Leonardo with the communicating figures in his version in the refectory of the Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan, becomes evident when comparing the two paintings. However, the overall effect is agreeable and there are some ingenious touches.

The lunettes offer an easy opportunity to the expert painter - a view of trees in a Tuscan garden beyond the wall; fruit-trees, cypresses, and an isolated palm-tree that appears rather incongruous in the surroundings. To the right, a peacock perches on a windowsill, while other birds flutter around in the crystalline air. The table is covered by a white tablecloth with blue embroidery. Plates, decanters, glasses, saltcellars and knives are carefully arranged in front of each table-guest, as are the bread and cherries. It might even be the realistic and serene representation of a Florentine table of the period.