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The Last Supper - Da Vinci Vs Tintoretto

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The Last Supper was a very powerful and significant biblical event when Jesus and his disciples gathered for one final dinner together. These events included an announcement by Jesus that one of his disciples would betray him and the Eucharist. Artists in the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries felt it was necessary to give proper attention and consideration to such important religious subjects. Both Leonardo da Vinci and Jacopo Robusti, known as Tintoretto, accepted the challenge of visually recreating the emotion and drama of the Last Supper. While Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci and Last Supper by Tintoretto are very similar in subject matter; they differ substantively in composition, symbolism, and choice of narrative moment and magnitude of expression.

Last Supper by Leonardo da Vinci is the first great figure composition of the High Renaissance and is considered the definitive interpretation of its theme. Leonardo da Vinci chose as his subject the time following the meal to make the declaration that, "One of you shall betray me". Jesus and his twelve disciples are seated at a long table that is parallel to the picture plane. The room is spacious and peaceful with soft, even lighting throughout the space. Christ has his arms spread in an attitude of openness and trust while the rest of the group is in intense and dramatic excitement, their hands out in shock and questioning the truth of Jesus' words. The viewer can feel the tense excitement sweeping through the groups of disciples as they question themselves and each other. Jesus, the most important figure in the painting, has been placed in front of three windows that are in the back of the room. He is framed by the center window with a curved pediment that arches above his head symbolizing a halo. Da Vinci's use of a physical architectural halo as opposed to Tintoretto's visual light of a halo. Jesus' head serves as the focal and vanishing point of this piece causing your eye to be immediately attracted to the center. Da Vinci has arranged the disciples into groups of three linking each group together through their hand motions giving this piece a sense of connectedness and symmetry. Your eye is taken on a journey through the oval-shaped composition of the piece, but it is clear that Jesus serves as the center of visual and thematic attention.

Last Supper by Tintoretto is a beautiful Mannerist-style painting in which the painter creates a revolutionary type of composition. The piece's surface plane shoots in an off-centered diagonal direction and Jesus is noticeable not by location but by the unearthliness of the light around his head. There is a feeling of uneasiness portrayed in the figures as they lean into unnatural and awkward positions, such as the maid in the foreground. The figures also seem to blossom in light through a darkness of the background. The two brightest areas, Jesus and the flickering flames from the hanging oil lamp, fight for the viewer's attention and create a sense of visual uncertainty. The smoke wafting from the oil lamp transforms into an angelic choir hovering to form the light around Jesus' head, perfecting the movement and transformation Mannerists set out to accomplish.

The use of symbolism in both Da Vinci's and Tintoretto's Last Supper is important to the interpretation of each piece. Da Vinci is the first known artist to place Judas, the disciple who betrays Jesus, on the same side of the table as Christ. This subtly symbolizes the trust that Jesus shared with his followers, therefore appearing more realistic and natural. By placing



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