Corrado Giaquinto 1703-1766

The Last Supper



Corrado Giaquinto 1703-1766


The Last Supper


About 1740–1750


Oil on canvas


60.03 x 111.8 cm (unframed); 86 x 129 cm (framed)






Not on Display

The Last Supper is narrated in all the four Gospel accounts, and describes the final meal that Jesus shared with his apostles in Jerusalem before his crucifixion. In this theatrical depiction, Giaquinto dramatises the spiritual significance of the event through a strong use of light and dark. The light emanating from the central figure of Jesus emphasises the moment of Christ’s revelation to his disciples that one of them will betray Him. Their dismay is evident in their poses, gestures, and facial expressions. The artist captures the agitation of the disciples, in stark contrast to the statuesque strength of Christ. At the top, clouds conceal vanishing figures of witnessing winged putti, giving the scene an aura of sacredness, and alluding to the inevitable destiny of Christ, while classical architecture acts as stage wings at either side. If the Supper celebrated by Jesus corresponds to that of the Jewish Easter, the Pesach, its typical dishes do not appear here. While the traditional Pesach menu includes bitter herbs, unleavened bread, charoset, roast lamb, and wine, the table painted by Giaquinto appears rather meagre. On the white tablecloth there are only a loaf of bread and a dish perhaps of lamb; the chalice already containing the Blood of Christ, an open book, and two (Easter) candles are painted on the left, far from the table, and allude to a different, and subsequent moment to the one narrated here, that of the Eucharist. This painting is dated between the 1740s and early 1750s, a particularly productive period for Giaquinto. His figures are inspired by those of Sebastiano Conca, one of his Roman contemporaries, while his soft and elegant palette reveals the influence of Francesco Solimena, whom Giaquinto probably encountered as a young man in Naples. Born in Molfetta, in the south of Italy, Giaquinto was trained in Naples and moved to Rome in 1727, where he became one of the leading painters in the rococo school. In 1753 he travelled to Madrid to become the court painter of King Ferdinand VI, and returned to Naples in 1762, where he died four years later. The reverse of the stretcher is inscribed in an old, possibly eighteenth-century hand, L'ultima Cena di Nro Signore (The Last Supper of Our Lord). Inscribed on the reverse: L'ultima Cena di Nro Signore (The Last Supper of Our Lord).

Corrado Giaquinto The Last Supper About 1740–1750 © Compton Verney