El Sacramento de la Última Cena (1955)

Dalí, Salvador (1904-1989)

El Sacramento de la Última Cena (The Sacrament of the Last Supper)
Oil on canvas, 166.7 cm × 267 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

One transparent, ghostly man sits and twelve more people wearing long robes bow over a long table set under a floating, surreal structure in front of a watery landscape in this horizontal painting. The people all have light or tanned skin. At the center of the table opposite us, a man, Jesus, sits facing us with his left hand, to our right, touching his chest and his other hand raised with the thumb and index finger pointing upward. He has long, blond hair, dark brows, and his square jaw is cleanshaven. A piece of white drapery wraps over one shoulder so half of his chest is bare. His body is outlined with light but is transparent so we see the landscape beyond the table through him. Three men are spaced evenly, shoulder by shoulder, to each side of Jesus on the far side of the table. A pair of men sit at each narrow end, and two men sit on our side of the table, one to either side of Jesus. The men on our side kneel at the table, so presumably the rest do as well. They bow their heads low over their praying hands, which rest on the table. Ten of the men wear silvery-white robes. One man to our left wears a lapis-blue cloak and one to our right wears bumblebee yellow. Eight of the men have dark hair, three have gray hair, and one is blond. The table spans the width of the painting, with the short ends to each side receding sharply back in space so there is room for the men there. The parchment-white cloth covering the table is creased deeply where it had been folded. Two pieces of a round loaf of bread, torn in half, are to either side of Jesus near the edge of the table closer to us. A glass tumbler with red liquid sits near Jesus. The scene is lit from the landscape beyond the table, so the people are slightly backlit, and the shadows and the red glow from the glass extend toward us. A structure above the table is suggested by a floating form of interlocking, golden shapes, like an oversized honeycomb, to create a dome-like space. Coffee-brown areas at the upper corners of the painting suggest a ceiling, but the structure fades to transparency as it nears the table. A shimmering body of periwinkle-blue water stretches from behind the table to a row of low, gossamer-white, rocky mountains along the horizon in the distance. One empty, golden yellow rowboat floats in the water, seen past Jesus’s left elbow, and a second, indigo-blue boat has been pulled onto a sandy shore to our left. The sky above is topaz blue around a warm, yellow glow emanating from Jesus. A few taupe and cream-white clouds float across the sky. The artist signed the painting in dark brown on the tablecloth in the lower right: “Gala Salvador Dali 1955.” (NGA)