Religious subject matter dominated the Renaissance, Mannerist, and Baroque periods. As a result, many of the masters painted their interpretations of the Last Supper, a sacred event in Christianity. In this discussion thread, discuss the usage of the visual elements and principles of design each artist used to convey their message. Compare and contrast each these works by answering the following questions in paragraph format. A minimum of 250 words is required.
1. Explain the use of linear perspective in each painting.
2. Where is the vanishing point? The focal point?
3. Explain the use of implied lines in each painting.
4. Explain the division created by the table in each painting.
5. Explain the use of movement in each painting.
6. Describe the use of light and dark contrast.
7. Describe color relationships in each painting.
8. Which painting is more complicated in its composition? Explain.
9. After reviewing questions 1-8, which painting is a more classic statement of the event and why?
10. Which painting conveys a stronger sense of emotion and why?
In the Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper (1495-98) I see the use of parallel and horizontal lines. Leonardo also used one point perspective, which involves all the lines in the painting converging in one place, known as the vanishing point. The vanishing point is just behind the head of the figure of Jesus, while the focal point is made up from color, contrast, and structure. I noticed the use of implied lines. The most obvious is the architecture of the building. The ceiling bars and wall decorations all point towards Christ using clever perspective. Also, In the Leonardo da Vinci, The Last Supper (1495-98) the table represented monumental, simplicity, the composition of the scene is masterful; a moment of high tension. Pay attention to foreground and christs head, the window behind acts as a halo. The light Angles and lighting draw attention to the centre composition and Jesus whose head is positioned at the vanishing point and all perspective lines meet. Leonardo used the method of Fresco which began to deteriorate during artists time.
In Tintoretto, The Last Supper (1592-94), the lines of the table, the pattern on the floor and the wood in the ceiling create a linear perspective. Tintoretto’s work is characterized by its dramatic gestures, bold use of perspective, color and light. Chiaroscuro used to show the effects of lighting on the figures’ bodies. Christ is not exactly the focal point in this picture. Instead of directing the eyes to the head of Christ the lines emanating from the glow of light around him lead to an infinite point in the distance. The table was to be perceived by visitors to the church as an extension in perspective of the high altar, or conversely the high altar was to be seen as a prolongation of the table for the Last Supper. Tintoretto’s symbolic use of color; the complementary reds and blues also the dark gloomy gothic feel, creates a mood of tension and stress.
Lastly, Peter Paul Rubens, The Last Supper (1630-31) The focal point is Jesus who’s dressed in red and has a yellow halo surrounding his head with his face tilted upwards. It’s clear Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper fresco was a significant influence on Rubens. With Judas dressed in blue turning back towards the viewer and away from the table. Other than Jesus, the most prominent figure is Judas. Judas holds his right hand to his mouth with his eyes avoiding direct contact with the other figures in the painting creating a nervous expression. Leaves the viewer to speculate his thoughts.
The painting I felt most complicated, a classic statement of the event, and conveys a stronger sense of emotion was Tintoretto, The Last Supper (1592-94). I felt there was a lot more going on in the painting , more movement as you would say. 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. Mannerist works openly displayed imbalanced compositions, unusual complexities.
In Leonardo Da Vinci, The Last Supper (1495-98), the linear perspective is symmetrically distinctive as a one-point located in the center of the painting as viewed behind the characters. In the Tintoretto, The Last Supper (1592-94), there appears to be a two-point linear perspective coming from each end of the table, and in Peter Paul Rubens, The Last Supper (1630-31), the linear perspective could be identified in the middle and possibly indicative of Jesus because he is the focal point and his position seems to give the illusion of that linear perspective.
The vanishing point in Da Vinci’s painting is with no doubt in the center of the three back wall openings and disappears into the landscape that is shown within those openings with a focal point on Jesus at the center of the table. For Tintoretto’s painting the vanishing point is in an angular form and to the right side with the end of the table serving as the vanishing point where several characters are reduced in size, indicating distance, but the focal point of this painting is Jesus with the bright halo. Is it a little more difficult to identify the vanishing point in Rubens’s painting because of the proximation of the characters to the viewers but it could be directly behind Jesus’s head where shadow and light converge. The focal point in this painting is also Jesus.
The implied lines in Da Vinci’s painting have been used to tell the viewer that conversations are being had among the disciples because those lines are representing movement while the conversation is taking place. The same is true for Tintoretto’s painting as conversation is also taking place, and at the same time, food is also being managed in the painting. Those implied lines are transferring movement of tasks being performed. For Rubens’s painting, the implied lines are more indicative of the characters being focused on what Jesus is doing, which looks like he is blessing the food as he holds a piece of bread in his left hand and is looking up in a reverent way. But the implied lines in Judas character send a worrisome message of fear and guilt for the deed he has already committed against Jesus.
The division created by the table in Da Vinci’s painting separates the viewer from the intimate conversations taking place and gives a sense that the space where this gathering is taking place is much bigger. Because the location of the table in Tintoretto’s painting is to the left side, it allows for more action to the right side where food is being unloaded in preparation to be served and creates a very dynamic environment of tasks and conversation happening simultaneously. There is not much table separation represented in Rubens’s painting but rather a more intimate gathering of disciples around the table in a more tranquil and inviting environment.
The use of movement in all three of the paintings is suggestive of conversation among the characters and of focus while those conversations and tasks are taking place.
The use of light in Da Vinci’s painting gives a more peaceful scene of the characters’ gathering while in Rubens and Tintoretto’s painting the use of dark and light contrast gives a sense of more dramatic actions taking place. For example, in Rubens’s painting the dark and light distinction makes the scene very intimate and focused, but in Tintoretto’s painting the use of dark and light makes the conditions more energetic with multiple events happening all at once.
The color relationship in Da Vinci’s painting is a more complementary set of color with red, orange, and green being used. In Rubens and Tintoretto’s painting, more variations of the same colors and intensity are used making the scenes more monochromatic.
Regarding the complexity of composition, I would have to say that Tintoretto’s painting is more complicated because the use of dark and its variations had to be exactly right, or it would not convey the dynamic and intensity of the scenes presented. The only source of light in this painting comes from the one oil lamp hanging from the ceiling on the left side and gives just enough light to distinguish the characters in the various scenes while dark is predominant throughout the painting.
After careful review, the more classical statement of the event is with Rubens’s painting because when one reads this event in The Bible, it seems like the scene in this painting with an intimate gathering of disciples with Jesus in a casual manner partaking of a meal. This painting also conveys a stronger sense of emotion due to the intimacy of the gathering with all the disciples paying close attention to Jesus and their apparent sense of devotion and respect toward Jesus. Also, Jesus’s expression is depicted oppressively solemn as he already knows what his fate will soon be.
Leonardo DaVinci’s painting is linear perspective defined. When we first look at the painting, we notice the horizon behind Jesus’ head and the horizon in the background. That imaginary lines runs to the left and right just above each of the apostle’s heads. You also will notice the ceiling where many rows of squares line up forming vertical lines. Both sets of lines intersect just above Jesus’s head forming the vanishing and focal points. Implied lines are formed from the apostle’s gazes. Each apostle looking at the other creates an invisible light of sight. Our perspective of this painting is an onlooker to this scene and the table splits up the room between us and the guests of this dinner. DaVinci used the guests talking to each other to show motion in the painting. The light and dark contrast is not as prevalent in this painting as it is in the other two renditions. The only dark in this painting is used in the background to highlight the guests in the forefront. Speaking of colors, DaVinci also used the primary colors to color the clothing and only used them as intended without making them darker or lighter.
Tintoretto’s version of the Last Supper is much darker than DaVinci’s. His linear perspective is seen as the straight edge of the table that resides in the center of the painting. But like DaVinci’s, he also has rows of squares on the ceiling of the room. The vanishing point is oddly placed in this painting. It is actually to the right of the man in the red clothing, who later will be recognized as Judas. The focal point is the bright light that surrounds Jesus’ head. The implied lines are the diagonal setting of the table. The division is created by the guest who is on the opposite side of the table, Judas, who betrayed Jesus. Like the DaVinci, the guests talking amongst each other is how the movement is shown in this version. Most of the painting is dark, brooding colors, with dark blues and reds leaving it a very dark scene. The only lights in the painting is a light surrounding Jesus’ head and an above lamp which has angels swirling around it.
Peter Paul Rubens version of this painting is also dark like Tintoretto’s. The grouping of the gentlemen forms a natural line above their heads like the DaVinci version. The focal point in this painting is the same type of focal point as DaVinci’s, above Jesus’ head where, in this version, a light beam from above helps to illuminate the room. Implied lines, like the other two paintings, are created while the apostles speak to each other. Like Tintoretto’s version, the division of the room is Judas sitting on the opposite side of the table from the other guests. In this painting, Judas is looking away in guilt, presumably at the viewer of the painting, because he just found out that Jesus knows who betrayed him. Movement is shown as the guests talk to each other. The scene is illuminated from a light beam that shines from part of the ceiling above and also, Jesus’ head has a glow that helps to lighten the room. Although the painting is dark, the colors the artist chose are not as dark as the Tintoretto. Ruben uses a lot of medium browns, reds and greens. The light source in the painting also reflects into their clothing and Ruben shows those areas in lighter shades.
Of all three paintings, the most complicated is the Tintoretto painting. There is a lot of action going on in the scene. Not only are there apostles and Jesus, but servants, onlookers and women in the background and angels swirling around in the space above all of those people. The most classic painting is the DaVinci painting. I was not even aware there were other versions of this event until this class. The elements are also very simple. It clearly shows Jesus and the apostles having Jesus’ last supper. The apostles know one of them betrayed Jesus and each are looking to each other to figure out who did it. The one that is the most emotional to me is the Rubens version. Jesus is performing the communion with his apostles which is a religious ceremony that is not to be taken lightly. Judas is looking away because he knows he has been caught while all the other apostles look to each other to see who the culprit was.