The Last Supper Mosaic in the Monreale Cathedral
The Last Supper scene portrayed in the mosaics of the Monreale Cathedral is
of the Byzantine style. This means that the figures are for the most part
frontal and static. This scene is located on the walls of the Cathedral, which
is interesting because many of the Last Supper scenes that we saw were located
in the refectories of monasteries and other dining places. In this rendering,
Judas is kneeling in front of the table, facing Christ with his hands clasped
together. He is the only one on that side of the table. Because this is in the
Byzantine style, there is no real sense of perspective and therefore the table
itself does not have much depth. The figures (the other eleven disciples) are
seated in a semicircle around the table, with Christ seated at the head of the
table on the left of the scene. Next to Christ is John the Apostle, whom Christ
is consoling. Although not all of the figures are facing the front, their eyes
portray the typical Byzantine feel in that they are big without much life.
Unlike most of the Last Supper frescoes and paintings that we saw along our
trip, this is merely a single panel that is part of the whole story. It does not
serve the same reflective purpose as Leonardo’s painting; it only adds to the
complete story of the life of Christ.
Because there is only emphasis place on the viewer, this depiction adheres to
Gombrich’s first stage—the magico-medical theory. The artist was directed to
create this scene. He probably did not feel the same emotions viewing as
The Renaissance rendering of the Last Supper that is perhaps the most famous
of all Last Supper depictions was painted by Leonardo da Vinci. In his
portrayal, da Vinci uses a one-point perspective style. The vanishing point he
uses disappears behind Christ’s head. Christ is in the middle of the group, with
the disciples divided into four groups around Him. However, in creating these
divisions, Leonardo groups the disciples close enough together that it is not
completely obvious. Another reason the painting must be categorized as a
Renaissance painting is because of the classical building structures that appear
in the background. The vanishing point, divisions and classical structures allow
the painting to maintain a strict order. This order is also an indicator of the
Some of the interesting characteristics that make this painting unique are in
the hand gestures and facial expressions. Perhaps the most astounding aspect of
this fresco is that instead of choosing to portray the moment before telling his
disciples that one would betray him, Leonardo chooses to portray the seconds
after the announcement. Because of this, each disciple is shown reacting in his
own way. For example, disciples are shown with their hands flung in accusation
at the others. Some are thrown back, signifying their innocence. Others look
around wondering and guessing as to whom the betrayer is. No one, however, is
looking to Judas, who is the figure on the same side of the table, two people
away from Christ. John is probably the most noticeable of the disciples, as he
is situated closest to Christ and wears an extremely somber facial expression.
While many of the other disciples show tense facial expressions and emotion, it
is John who shows the most emotion in his simple face. Christ’s facial
expression is similar to John’s. Leonardo painted this Last Supper in the
refectory, so unlike the mosaics in the Cathedral, this painting served a
specific purpose during meal times.
It is important to note da Vinci achieves some of the techniques through four
categories that help classify it as a Renaissance piece of art. Some of the
reasons we are drawn to such a painting are related to ideas such as the chorus
effect, emphasis, affetti and projectives. Dealing with the chorus effect,
Leonardo places ephasis on Christ—who is the main character—by placing him in
the middle and surrounding him with other characters. This placement is crucial
to understanding the story. Da Vinci places emphasis on placement and hand
gestures. Such emphasis on those chaotic around a pensive Christ shows the
emotional contrast among the disciples.
Although this painting is very much a Renaissance painting, the facial
expressions are such that they have an effect on the viewer. Such affetti
communicate the emotions that must be present at this moment at the dinner
table. Christ shows his sadness, others show disbelief. Because of these facial
expressions and hand gestures the viewer can almost create a dialogue of what
the disciples are saying.
The Last Supper scene that best represents the Baroque period is by the
painter Tintoretto. Located in San Martino church in Lucca, this painting uses
light and colors to accentuate certain aspects of the scene. The most unique
point of interest of this painting is the way the artist chose to portray the
scene. Instead of painting Christ in the middle of a horizontal table with
disciples on either side, Tintoretto painted the scene as though the viewer is
entering the dinner himself, looking in on the action which is taking place.
Whereas Leonardo’s painting seems as though the disciples and Christ are posing
for a portrait, Tintoretto’s painting shows the figures in action and allows the
viewer to see what’s happening without disturbing their supper. The artist
accomplishes this several ways. For one, the table is not painted horizontally.
Instead, the table goes back into the painting in a vertical fashion. Because
the scene is not painted for the purpose of recognizing that it is the Last
Supper, there is more action, more movement and more liveliness in the figures.
Christ is standing and feeding Peter. He is not sitting with his hands in the
blessed position. He is doing, acting, moving– He is seemingly human. There are
also extraneous characters in the corners of the painting– people who are
watching the scene just as the viewer is. They are women and children, animals
and cherubs. Like Leonardo’s fresco, there is the use of a vanishing point
behind Christ’s head, however, the positioning of the disciples is such that the
vanishing point is not clear. The painting has an extremely circular feel to it,
which allows the viewer to enter at the end of the table and follow around and
up to Christ and back down.
The characters in the painting, namely the disciples and Christ are all
involved in some kind of movement or action. In contrast to the Leonardo fresco,
this scene is not when Christ tells his followers that someone has betrayed him.
Instead, they are merry, relaxed and enjoying the food. They are talking to each
other. They are even talking to Judas. Their hands show that they are in
conversation and not in accusation of each other. In actuality, it is possible
for a viewer to see this painting and not consider it to be a Last Supper
depiction, simply because of the conversation and activity that is being shown.
Brought to you by node your homework