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The Last Supper, ca. 1530-1540

Artist: Tommaso di Stefano, Italian (Florentine School), ca. 1490 - 1564

Medium: Oil on wood panel - transferred to masonite

Painting: 31 1/4 x 54 in. (79.4 x 137.2 cm)
Frame: 41 1/4 x 68 5/8 in. (104.8 x 174.3 cm)

Credit Line: Gift of the Samuel H. Kress Foundation

Object Number: 61.203

Not on view

Sir Francis Ferdinand Maurice Cook, 4th Bt. (1907-1978), Richmond, Surrey, England, in 1945; Count Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (1878-1955), Rome-Florence, March 10, 1949 [as Bachiacca]; Samuel H. Kress Foundation, New York, New York, 1961.

The Last Supper was a common subject during the Renaissance, particularly for a refectory, the place where the members of a religious order took their meals, thus linking the significance of Christ's last meal with their own breaking of bread.  Central to any depiction of the Last Supper was the artist's skill in expressing the various emotions of the apostles as they learned that one among them would betray their leader.  John, on Jesus' immediate right, is asking, "Is it I?" while Peter leans forward with a hand on John's shoulder.  Further down the table, Judas holds the bag of coins which served as payment for his sinister deed.  The window and rocky garden landscape that appear directly above Christ's head, and where Christ can be seen appearing for the second time in this painting, function as a prophecy of his agony in the Garden of Gethsemane.  The dog asleep at Christ's feet symbolizes the steadfastness of the faithful.


While art historians have noted Raphael's influence on Stefano, the arrangement of this scene can also be traced to Raphael's predecessor, Leonardo da Vinci, who inspired many of Raphael's compositions.  Like Leonardo, Stefano has organized the disciples into groups of three or four in an attempt to add symmetry and balance to his work. 


Likewise, the entire composition is constructed parallel to the picture plane, with the table forming a strong horizontal and the figure of Christ occupying the central axis, adding an extra measure of stability to this otherwise emotional scene.