The Last Supper is the name of a famous mural made by Leonardo Da Vinci. It represents the final meal where Jesus tells his apostles1 one of them will betray him. (For the details of the Last Supper, see the appropriate Jesus Christ Superstar scene – it may not be the most accurate version out there, but it’s a musical version, doesn’t that make it canon?2 ).
The painting itself seems to show the reactions to Jesus dropping this spoiler on the unsuspecting public without warning. As you can see many have a “Not me!”, or “Probably him, I never trusted him anyway”, or a “Let’s start selectively lynching people right away” look about them.
There’s a lot going on in this picture:First off, there’s the bread roll thing. In the book of Matthew, Jesus says ‘Whoever takes some bread at the same time as me will betray me. Bon appetit, guys!”. Yeah, Jesus really knew how to ruin a party. In the ensuing malarkey, Judas grabs some comfort-carbs, not noticing that Jesus is sneakily grabbing a roll as well (you can see it better in a large version of the painting).
There’s the symbolism of the number 3, the number of the holy trinity, recurring in the grouping of the apostles, in the windows behind Jesus, in Jesus himself who’s looking a bit triangular (I’m not making this up, people have graduated on this shit). There’s the theory that the position of the hands and loaves of bread can be interpreted as a musical composition. The painting also plays a big role in The Da Vinci code (which I haven’t read – real life conspiracies are more fun, n’est-ce pas?).
The picture is certainly more lively than most boring-old-pictures, but in itself not so interesting. It’s not even the best Last Supper picture2. What’s interesting is how it’s started to lead a life of it’s own. The appeal of a group shot steeped in symbolism and foreshadowing is apparantly hard to resist. Everyone and their cat’s fleas have done a last supper shot. And I find them all fascinating.
First off, there’s some very nice artistic reïnterpretations.
Dali’s very etherial last supper, incidentally the last painting he ever made. I’m not sure why there’s a giant floating torso.
The first supper, a Last Supper dedicated to the matriarch model, made by an Australian painter. All the women are types of inhabitants of Australia drinking water and eating bread. Jesus is an aboriginal. Judas is a blond woman holding a shopping bag and a can of coke. I think there might be a message here, but hey, who knows?
Then there’s a category of Last Supper pictures that take this opportunity to convey the psychological relations between their groups of people and symbolically point towards future events. It’s a favorite of TV shows.
The Battlestar Gallactica last supper (here with interpretative clues, detailing how all the positions are intentional).
The Lost last supper. I don’t watch the show anymore, so I don’t know in what way Locke is like Jesus. Here’s some speculation about its deeper meaning. It totally does away with the symbolism of three, whereas most other pictures try to incorporate it in some way.
The House Last supper composition. Not much psychological deepness here. Wilson and Cuddy try to make contact with house, Cameron and Chase observe, Forman turns away. They’ve incorporated the three background windows, though.
The Watchmen’s Last Supper. More of a gag (and I should check if the same frame is in the comic) and difficult to make out details, but the comedian is roughly in the position of Judas.
The soprano’s last supper. I can’t say much about this one. It’s made by Annie Leibovitz but I don’t like it much, and I never watched the show.
The Star wars last supper mosaic.
Then there’s a lot of copies ridiculing the subject. Ranging from the genius imitation to the bland parody. They don’t really play on the paintings symbolic significance, just on the familiarity of the image.
Satan’s last supper. Quite well done.
The Benneton last supper. Can’t have a religious icon without Benneton butting in. Nothing sells clothes like a good religious icon, right?
Bunuel’s Last supper of beggers
The South Park Last Supper
Homer’s Last.. beer
That’s all the pictures I’ve collected so far.
But my obsession goes further than mere picture collecting. I really want to make my own last supper shot. The next time we have a barbecue or another sizable event that includes a table, I’m getting that shot, dammit. It should be fun to figure out who gets gets to be who.