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Body of Christ

In this painting, Jesus is shown giving bread to one of his disciples. This matches with what is depicted in the Bible, in Matthew 26:26 "While they were eating, Jesus took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gave it to his disciples, saying, “Take and eat; this is my body.” This scene is portrayed very accurately in this painting. Despite not being at the very center in this depiction, the light still draws your eye to Jesus giving the bread to his dicisiples. This is the first communion, which is incredibly important in Christian and especially Catholic tradition. It was likely incredibly important for Tintoretto to get this detail right and to emphasize it, especially since his depiction of the Last Supper is otherwise extremely atypical.

Betrayal of Judas

Judas is portrayed as the only figure not sitting on the same side of Jesus. In Matthew, Jesus says that "one of you will betray me." Judas says "Surely not I, Rabbi?" to which Jesus responds "Yes, it is you." Although Judas is not depicted doing anyting particularly shady in this painting, his distance from Jesus and the disciples demonstrate how he has detatched himself from them. He is also depicted as somewhat mournful and depressed. This is accurate to another line from Matthew, where Jesus says "But woe to that man who betrays the Son of Man! It would be better for him if he had not been born." In this painting, you can feel that woe coming off of Judas, and I think this was a purposeful way to communicate Judas' betrayal in a unique way.

The Gathering

In the books of Luke and Mark, Jesus asks his disciples to find a "large upper room, furnished and ready" for them to gather in. Additionally, it is described that the disciples are all "reclin[ed] at the table eating". These details are retained in this painting. The room is grand and large, communicating that Jesus and his disciples were respected and treated with honor. The disicples are also depicted as leaning in to Jesus and each other, close together (with the exception of Judas). This is another feature of the Last Supper that would be immediately recognizable to someone. Since this painting is so unique and unlike typical Last Supper depictions, Tintoretto wanted to retain a few obvious signifiers of the story.


Angels are depicted in this painting forming from the wisps of smoke coming from the flames above Jesus' head. Nothing like this is depicted in the text. In fact, the three books in the Bible that describe the Last Supper is sparse on details about the event. Angels are certainly not part of the original text, however. The choice to depict angels looking on adds depth to the scene, and shows how this would be an incredibly important event. The focus on the angels also adds a layer of spirtuality to the scene that was not otherwise present. The piece is already moody due to the chiaroscuro, and Tintoretto's decision to add the angels adds to that mood and makes the piece more intriguing than simply adapting the text to the letter.

Surrounding Guests

Another addition to the Last Supper scene that was not depicted originally is other guests surrounding the main scene. Although the text references an "owner of the house" that is allowing Jesus to use the room, no one else is mentioned. However, it makes sense that others would help prepare the Passover feast. This addition makes the scene feel more real, lived in, and active, with the guests moving around the space. Tintoretto is also very focused on making this piece visually distinct from other Last Supper pieces, and the addition of other guests immediately distinguishes it and makes it special.


Tintoretto remains faithful to the basics of the Last Supper: the Eucharist, Judas' betrayal, and the setting. He does not subtract: instead, he adds, showing angels and other guests at the Last Supper when they were not originally depicted as being there. This adds depth and makes the story feel more active and lived in. The most interesting changes Tintoretto makes, however, are the changes to the way the Last Supper was typically portrayed in art. In addition to the new figures, Tintoretto does not center Jesus, instead creating depth and using light to frame him and draw the viewer's eye. He is able to communicate the same story, with the same elements, in a drastically different way than his peers. The important historical context for this painting is that it was created during the Mannerist movement, which is a style focused on beauty and less technically realistic scenes than other Classical artworks at the time did. This movement is clearly shown here: figures are elongated, and the scene is moody and beautiful, not necessarily realistic. Tintoretto's take on the Last Supper demonstrates the mannerist style and distinguishes itself from other artworks depicting the Last Supper while still being mostly accurate to the text.