CLIO FINAL - page 12

There are many different depictions of The Last
Supper, as it is one of the most famous stories in
the Bible, therefore meaning that approximately
one third of the world’s population know it. The
most famous illustration of the event is by Leonar-
do daVinci, with his mural still seen in Milan today,
often leading people to think of this when think-
ing of the story. However, throughout time, many
different images of the story have been made, with
many different interpretations of the meaning be-
hind the Last Supper and the way in which the story
in imagined. In this article, I shall look at a lesser
known version of the event through one painter’s
interpretation and consider how many different
parts of people’s history can be interpreted by
many differently.
Dieric Bouts was a Dutch painter born at
around 1415. Very little is known about his life, as
records were not often taken, however many of
his paintings show different parts of Jesus’ story in
the Bible. In his depiction of the Last Supper, paint-
ed around 30 years before DaVinci’s and the first
Flemish illustration of the Last Supper, Jesus is pre-
sented as a priest-like character performing mass,
passing bread and wine around his disciples, some
of whom have their back to the viewer of the paint-
ing. Not a lot of information is known about the
painting and what each representation symbolises,
however servants can be seen in the picture, stand-
ing around the centre table. According to Bouts,
these people are two sons and he, in an attempt
to show how religion was inclusive, uniting people
and giving everyone a place to feel welcome and
loved, however still humbly serving who they felt as
their true leader. Alternatively, these servants are in
fact images of the commissioners of the painting,
who were willing to let Bouts show how he read the
story, maybe as they too believed that religion was
different for all and how they, despite having more
power, were the same as the painter in the eyes
of God. The image of Jesus in a dull brown robe,
contrasting to the harsh black and red around him
may show how to Bouts and many other people in
the time, the son of God was an image of humility,
showing the people how humans were equal, no
matter the descent. This is very interesting, as the
image itself is in more of a realistic setup, with the
disciples surrounding the table, meaning that some
are obscured by the perspective of the image, yet
it is depicting the story in a different light, as most
images show Jesus comforting John or announcing
the betrayal to the disciples. Contrastingly, this
picture is a lot more tranquil, showing Jesus as the
priest, more knowledgeable and at peace with his
fate, performing the ceremony as though showing
what was to come from his story.
This depiction is an example of how religion
itself is different to every person, event though
it unites many. Leonardo daVinci’s image is a lot
more famous and important in the world today,
however there are still many different ones out
there, with many different symbolic elements. It
is interesting how some are more famous, as the
vast majority are attempting to show similar ideas
of unity amongst men and the humility of religion,
as it is accessible for everyone. The fact that such
a well-known story can be seen so differently may
suggest to us today how many different parts of
history have been accepted from a particular view
point, yet still events and consequences known
today are interpretations of what happened in a
past moment. This is particularly interesting in reli-
gion, as despite the religious and sacred texts and
imagery, the stories and the lessons mean some-
thing different to anybody that sees or reads them
and even if one story is told in one way throughout
time, people can still see it differently. However,
in religion people are still united, even if they have
differing viewpoints on how past events went, as
the existence of faith is the most important aspect.
Louisa Owen 10D
The Last Supper
by Dieric Bouts
oil on wood
centrepiece of the ‘Altarpiece
of the Holy Sacrament’ triptych
on display at St. Peter’s Church,
Leuven, Belgium
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