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Renaissance Top 48: The Last Supper (Tintoretto)

Identification

Tintoretto, Last Supper, Chancel, San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, Italy, 1594. Oil on canvas, 12' x 18' 18".

Context

Jacopo Robusti was a student of Titian and went by the name of Tintoretto (1518 - 1594). He combined the colors in Titian's works with Michelangelo's drawing prowess. Tintoretto is often referred to as the outstanding Venetian representative of Mannerism. Mannerism was an art style that arose in sixteenth century Italy in which the art did not try to conceal its manmade limitations. Mannerist works openly displayed imbalanced compositions, unusual complexities, and ambiguous space. The Last Supper, painted for the interior of Andrea Palladio's church of San Giorgio Maggiore, is no different.

Content

Tintoretto painted a Last Supper in Jesus mingles the crows of apostles. The figures appear in a dark interior illuminated by a single light in the upper left of the image. Shimmering halos on the figures clues viewers in about the biblical nature of the scene - this and the winged angles above set this Last Supper as more openly  supernatural than Leonardo's rendition.

The entire piece has is incorporated with Mannerist devices.The composition is imbalanced - instead of a horizontal or vertical line by which all objects are judged, the scene is slanted on a diagonal starting from the bottom left and moving to the upper right. Also, the visual complexity of Mannerist works is present as well. Tintoretto painted a lively, chaotic scene in which Jesus is above and beyond the converging perspective lines that race diagonally away from the picture surface. Christ is distinguished by his halo of blinding light that illuminates the darkness.

Image


Form

  • Oil on Canvas - displayed in the church of San Giorgio Maggiore
  • Chiaroscuro used to show the effects of lighting on the figures' bodies
    • Two light sources - Jesus and chandelier
  • Linear perspective
    • Lines on the table
    • Pattern on the floor
    • Wood in the ceiling
  • Jesus in center
  • Secondary characters
  • Sfumato - characters blend in with background

Function

The function of the painting is a didactic one. Tintoretto wanted to both beautify the house of God as well as teach churchgoers a scene from the Bible. This painting also is able to engage viewers that believed in both the Counter-Reformation and Catholic Church's views on portryaing holy scenes.