Thursday, April 5, 2012

Picture of the day: Last Supper by Ghirlandaio

It's Maundy Thursday (Skjærtorsdag, Jeudi Saint) today, and I choose this mural painting by Domenico Ghirlandaio.  It's on the inner wall of the refectory (dining hall) of the Ognissanti Monastery in Florence, Italy. I went there this February, and early one morning, I sat there, all alone in this large empty space which is the refectory.  A long, plain room, with this masterpiece in the far end. It's almost nine metres long and 4 metres tall, and it contains trompe-l'oeuil paintings of archictecture; vaults and columns, painted to give us the illusion that the room stretches out far beyond the actual wall.
Ghirlandaio painted this in 1480, about 10 years before Leonardo da Vinci made his version in Milan.  It is believed that Leonardo was well aquinted with Ghirlandaio's Last Supper, and that he actually was inspired by it.  There is many similarities in the way the two artists have interpreted the scene of Christ's last meal with his friends, the meal were he annunced that one of them would betray him.  On this painting, you see him, Judas Iskariot, sitting on our side of the table...
The disciple John has fallen asleep and is leaning on Jesus, which is sitting a little bit to the side, and not in plain center, as on Leonardo's painting.
"Do this in remembrance of me", was Christ's words, after breaking the bread and passing around the cup of wine."

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