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Da Vinci And Tintoretto: The Last Supper

1011 words - 5 pages

da Vinci and Tintoretto: The Last Supper

According to the Bible, the evening before Christ was crucified, he gathered his disciples together to eat, announced he had been betrayed by one of them, and asked them to perpetuate the celebration of the Eucharist after he was gone. The Last Supper is one common theme in European art, and the scene depicted is generally the next few seconds in the story just after Christ dropped the bombshell. Famous Italian painters Leonardo da Vinci and, a century later Tintoretto both painted the said scene, but their works are surprisingly dissimilar from one another. In fact, important changes in art occurred during the 16th century, which explains ...view middle of the document...

It is interesting to notice that while da Vinci’s Jude is hanging over the table, Tintoretto’s is kneeling at the far end of it. Unlike Leonardo’s well-ordered, placid composition, Tintoretto’s is extremely saturated and agitated.

The atmospheres depicted in both paintings are also drastically different due to numerous factors. Leonardo’s scene is highly realistic and serene, just like it could have happened in real life. The proportions are carefully respected; the daylight that comes from the windows in the back is natural; the colors are soft and muted, and the characters look like regular human beings, wearing human expressions and having no glowing halos stuck around their heads. The mood is simply solemn and no heavy symbols or spiritual references are used. For example, in both paintings the focus is on Christ, but for different reasons: in da Vinci’s because of the lines and in Tintoretto’s because of the light and the halo’s importance. On the other hand, Tintoretto abandons all measure and reason in favor of a more dramatic vision of the scene. The twisted bodies, the artificial chiaroscuro, the violent colors as well as the supernatural elements like the angels, the halos and the shadow plays enhance the bizarre atmosphere. While Leonardo paints the calm before the storm, Tintoretto’s dangerously crowded and unbalanced scene is somehow theatrical, and the viewer immediately knows something hectic is happening.

Both painters emphasized certain aspects of the scene, and each gave it a specific general meaning. Leonardo’s version is profoundly humanist and he clearly celebrates God through man: all of his figures, including Jesus, look perfectly human, but it still has a very pastoral side to it, as for example Christ’s triangular shape recalls Trinity. The solemnity of it reminds the viewer that it was Christ’s fate to be betrayed and scarify for man. Tintoretto adds a clearly mystic touch to the Last Supper, with the angels and supernatural light that comes from Christ’s head and the burning lamp,...

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