(b. 1518, Venezia, d. 1594, Venezia)
The Last Supper1579-81
Oil on canvas, 538 x 487 cm
Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Venice
The Last Supper is on the wall of the Sala Superiore.
Tintoretto's capacity to always give a new, different interpretation to one of the best loved and most repeated themes of his figurative repertoire is remarkable. In the foreground two large figures of poor people at the sides of the restless dog are crouching on the steps. Beyond them the two-coloured check marble floor which rises towards the kitchen area in a steep and oblique perspective flight, is cut across diagonally from the right by the very long table against the shadowed wall which marks the limits of the rooms. Along the table the figures rapidly and proportionally get smaller.
The apostles are caught by two sources of light, one coming from the foreground and a second one which spreads from the passage in the background on the right, and they are highlighted by chiaroscuro in a tumult of spiritual poses and attitudes which spread along the table with vivid dramatic force only to quieten down in the figure of Christ. His is the smallest figure even though he is immediately recognizable by the dazzling halo. He has just aroused many emotions by introducing the sacrament of Holy Communion and by announcing his betrayal by one of the Apostles.
The manna that fell from heaven has now descended from the ceiling to be transformed into the wafer offered to a slightly aloof, muted Peter. John has almost disappeared behind Christ, crushed under the weight of his dejection. Some diners, however, are happy with any bread at all, or perhaps just crumbs.