The Last Supper Albrecht Durer Buy Art Prints Now
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Tom Gurney BSc (Hons) is an art history expert with over 20 years experience
Published on June 19, 2020 / Updated on October 14, 2023
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The Last Supper of 1523 is one of the last pieces of artwork crafted by Durer in his lifetime. It comes as one of the famous themes in religious art, and many artists have used it in different ways. During the Christian traditions, the Last Supper marked the final meal shared between Christ and his disciples right before he is crucified.

Therefore, it is a critical moment in terms of theology and a renowned theme in Northern Renaissance art. With this art, Durer used woodblock to make it. This art has been interpreted concerning the theological debate over the Eucharist's ways and meaning in the early years of Reformation. Plenty of critics view this print as an expression of the Protestant utraquism, where the worshipers are given bread and wine at a spiritual union. However, the Roman tradition offered bread alone. Others view and interpret the bread, wine decanter, and the empty latter at the print's foreground as a sign of the Protestant Eucharist's celebratory, non-sacrificial nature. However, it does not include the Passover lamb, as stated in the traditional narration.

In other words, Durer altered the central focus of the last supper story. Rather than conveying Christ about to tell his disciples that one of the twelve disciples betraying him, the print takes things to another step. It shows only eleven disciples meaning that the betraying disciple, Judas, has already left. Christ, who is at the centre, is directing the remaining eleven disciples to continue spreading the faith even after his crucifixion. Besides, he tells them that they will be recognized for their love for one another. Typically, the scene originates from the biblical teachings of John 13:34 that involves loving one another as we love ourselves.

Moreover, the Last Supper is an innovative theme that eliminates the Eucharistic controversy. But it illustrates the essential biblical passage to which Martin Luther devoted the most significant emphasis in the preface of his 1522 New Testament translation. In this incredible work, Albrecht creates an impressive rendition of the Last Supper belonging to the series of the Large Passion. The good thing is that each disciple and character is meticulously detailed, indicating vibrant movement and expressions full of thought and contemplation. Besides, Durer has purposely made the grouping such that Christ's central figure isn't obstructed. During that period, Durer created other woodcuts about Jesus Christ on the Mount of Olives and Christ on the Cross. The Last Supper woodcut is currently located in art collections in mainly Albertina, Vienna, and Austria.