Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Last Supper

Title: The Last Supper
Artist: Simon Vouet
Medium: Oil on canvas
Size: 199 x 297 cm
Date: 1615-20
Location: Palazzo Apostolico, Loreto.

John 13:18-30 “I am not referring to all of you; I know those I have chosen. But this is to fulfill this passage of Scripture: ‘He who shared my bread has turned against me.’ I am telling you now before it happens, so that when it does happen you will believe that I am who I am. Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me; and whoever accepts me accepts the one who sent me.” After he had said this, Jesus was troubled in spirit and testified, “Very truly I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” His disciples stared at one another, at a loss to know which of them he meant. One of them, the disciple whom Jesus loved, was reclining next to him. Simon Peter motioned to this disciple and said, “Ask him which one he means.” Leaning back against Jesus, he asked him, “Lord, who is it?” Jesus answered, “It is the one to whom I will give this piece of bread when I have dipped it in the dish.” Then, dipping the piece of bread, he gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. As soon as Judas took the bread, Satan entered into him. So Jesus told him, “What you are about to do, do quickly.” But no one at the meal understood why Jesus said this to him. Since Judas had charge of the money, some thought Jesus was telling him to buy what was needed for the festival, or to give something to the poor. As soon as Judas had taken the bread, he went out. And it was night.

The common Old Testament idea that God and his true prophets are known by their ability to foretell events (for example, Is 48:5) is seen to be true of Jesus. He continues to give the word that cleanses his disciples by revealing himself to be the revealer of God. Thus the betrayal story itself bears witness to Jesus in three ways, namely, through his preternatural knowledge of his disciples, through the witness of Scripture and through his own prediction.

Simon Vouet (January 1590 –June 1649) was a leading French Baroque painter and an arbiter of taste for almost 20 years. The son of an artist, he settled in Italy in 1613, living chiefly in Rome, with periods in Genoa, Venice and Naples. His style shows an individual talent and a profound study of Italian painters, especially Veronese. Vouet soon enjoyed high favor, including the patronage of Pope Urban VIII. In 1627 he was invited back to France, where he became First Painter, a position challenged only once, in 1640-42, when he was brought into an artificial rivalry with Poussin. Vouet taught or collaborated with almost all the painters of the next generation in France, notably Le Brun, Le Sueur and Mignard. His portraits of the court of Louis XIII and most of his large-scale decorative schemes for Parisian houses and country chateaux have been destroyed.

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