The Last Supper (1799)

Blake, William (1757-1827)

The Last Supper
Tempera on canvas, 30.5 x 48.2 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

A long, rectangular dining table is surrounded by thirteen people in this horizontal painting. The skin of all the people, some of their clothing, and the tabletop are painted golden yellow. Touches of aquamarine blue, salmon pink, and rust red appear in some clothing, and the scene is set against a nearly black background. Across from us at the center of the table, a radiating, gold starburst surrounds the head and shoulders of a man, Jesus, with shoulder-length blond hair and beard. He looks at or toward us with dark eyes as he holds his hands up, palms facing out, at his chest. He wears a champagne-white robe and reclines with his legs extended to our left as he rests his opposite elbow on what could be a cushion or rolled-up blanket. To our right, a second person mirrors Jesus’s reclining position but with wrists crossed over the chest and turning to look toward Jesus. That person wears a long teal-blue garment and has smooth cheeks and long blond hair. Another bearded man to our left, near the back corner of the table, leans away from Jesus with hands held up as if in prayer. Three people lounge or sit on each of the short sides of the table to our left and right, and four recline on the side closest to us. Some have beards and others are cleanshaven, and some have short hair while others have long locks. Most of them look toward Jesus while two bend low to the table in prayer. One man, in the lower right, wears brick red and turns his back on the table as he counts or touches coins in a sack. The long table is set with goblets and plates of food. The artist signed the work with his initials in the lower left corner: “WB inv.” (NGA)