Last Supper (del Castagno)

Florence, Italy

Last Supper (del Castagno)

The Last Supper (1445–1450) is a fresco by the Italian Renaissance artist Andrea del Castagno, located in the refectory of the convent of Sant'Apollonia, now the Museo di Cenacolo di Sant'Apollonia, and accessed through a door on Via Ventisette Aprile at the corner with Santa Reparata, in Florence, region of Tuscany. The painting depicts Jesus and the Apostles during the Last Supper, with Judas, unlike all the other apostles, sitting separately on the near side of the table, as is common in depictions of the Last Supper in Christian art.

Sant'Apollonia was a Benedictine convent of cloistered nuns, and Castagno's fresco was not publicly known until the convent was suppressed in 1866: Vasari, for example, seems not to have known of the painting. Thus its exclusively female audience should be considered in analyzing the work. Castagno painted a large chamber with life-sized figures that confronted the nuns at every meal. The fresco would have served as a didactic image and an inspiration to meditation on their relationship with Jesus. Painted with a careful attention to naturalistic detail—a sense of real space and light, seemingly tangible details of the setting, and lifelike figures—the work must have spoken forcefully of the continued significance of the Eucharistic meal in their own world.

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