My education continues apace

When I was young, I thought there was only one version of The Last Supper.  That was the one  in Milan, and it was the work of  Leonardo da Vinci. Somewhere along the line, I found out there were many, many Last Suppers, and now I think we probably haven’t  seen the ultimate last supper.

The other day, I visited the San Marco museum in Florence and among the many wonderful things I saw was this interpretation of  The Last Supper, by  Domenico Ghirlandaio.  It is on a wall of the bookshop, and I watched so many people walk by or turn their back to it, as they bought a postcard of this very painting, not realising what they were missing.


Click on the image to see a larger version


We see Judas depicted on the near side of the table, with a little cat nearby. Are there any students of art history who can explain the various birds we see in the upper portion of the fresco?




Filed under Florence

40 responses to “My education continues apace

  1. You have references to many Last Suppers above — also, though, in the US National Gallery of Art, a more modern one by Salvador Dali —


    • Thank you for that information. I’d really like to see that painting with my own eyes. When I saw ‘Dali” in the link, I thought “Now, what will this be”. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise.


  2. There are indeed many many versions. I can’t resist showing you the cartoon in today’s Guardian.
    Sorry, can’t help with the iconography of the birds (and I did study art history!).

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I never knew there was more than one! Yet another reason to go and visit this amazing city.


  4. Hadn’t thought that anyone else would have painted a ‘Last Supper’ either…but then art is not my strong suit. Lovely piece of work and I really hope that as a tourist I keep my eyes open a little better than those in you shop. Happy Easter. 🙂


  5. Caroline

    This is a great guide – – and it lists 9.

    San Marco is my very favourite place in Florence! It was the only ‘attraction’ to which we took our friends who were first-time visitors to Florence, on our daytrip last summer (well, apart from eating & drinking places 🙂 ). And Phil got in free! (It turned out he made a better choice of job title for his carta d’identita’.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I totally agree with you about San Marco and I think I’ll be going back there. There was so much to admire. How about those cells for the monks with frescoes on the walls? And, seeing where Cosimo Medici had his cell and chapel …

      Thank you for the link, it’ll be an addition to my Kindle library, I reckon.


  6. Fascinating, including the comments!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Thank you! What an education, I have found within your post. I was ignorant and did not realize there was more than one, Last Supper. Perfect teaching as we roll into Easter weekend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Happy Easter my friend 😀 ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It seems there are last suppers everywhere. My granddad did some as well and if you google ‘Jan Oosterman’ and able to read Dutch you might come across one or two he did in Dutch and German churches during the late 1890-1940’s.
    Just big noting a bit here.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I like it. Is this how cats got a bad rap?


  11. PhilJ

    We tried to do a tour of Cenacoli the last time we were in Florence. Sadly we weren’t able to do them all. Tintoretto et al would later attempt to make the scene more dynamic, but there’s still plenty of interest in this one…not least the very, very sleepy figure of John.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Huh, how did I miss your comment? I’ve now seen 4 of the Cenacoli, it’s good to have the time to take into account the opening days, etc.

      I just saw a spoof on FB of a modern version of the Last supper, complete with iPhones, iPads, etc.


  12. Gorgeous painting and great learning via the interesting comments!


  13. A glorious painting and the comments add much to the visual enjoyment.


  14. Love the cat. Was the cat trying to indicate that Judas was a bad guy? Hmm. Hopefully the cat belongs to the owner of the house and not to Judas. Actually it’s probably just a stray who heard about the “loaves and fishes” and is looking for a handout.
    Too many of us walk by things of beauty without really looking at them.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Brian

    Do you have others on your list? There is the one by Andrea del Castagno at Sant’Apollonia.


    • Jane

      1. Chiesa di Ognissanti
      Domenico Ghirlandaio painted three beautiful Last Supper frescoes in Florence, one in the Badia di Passignano (about a 40-minute drive south of Florence) from 1476 and the other in the refectory of San Marco, which is almost identical to the Ognissanti Last Supper.

      Painted in 1480, Ghirlandaio’s Ognissanti Last Supper includes many beautifully…
      2. Museum of Santa Maria Novella
      The museum of Santa Maria Novella is largely overlooked by the majority of visitors. Its entrance is separate from the rest of the church, and is tucked away to the right of the church’s facade in the corner of Piazza Santa Maria Novella. A visit to this part of the church complex is a must for any fresco lover. Aside from the frescoes of Paolo…
      3. Cenacolo di Fuligno Museum
      The Last Supper by the celebrated Umbrian painter Pietro Perugino was painted in the early 1490s for the refectory of the Fuligno convent, used by a group of Fransiscan monks from Umbria.

      Like many churches in Florence, the interior was whitewashed in the 18th century, and this beautiful Perugino fresco was uncovered and rediscovered only in the…
      4. San Marco Museum
      In 1482, Domenico Ghirlandaio painted a Last Supper (almost identical to the Ognissanti Last Supper) for the refectory of the Dominican monks of San Marco.

      One of the main differences between his two Last Suppers (this is a bit like a spot the difference game!) is the presence of a cat in the San Marco Last Supper. The cat was a symbol of…
      5. Cenacolo di sant’Apollonia
      Painted around 1447 by the Renaissance master Andrea del Castagno for the convent of Sant’Apollonia (originally a medieval Benedictine convent), this expressive Last Supper sits together with images of the Crucifixion, the Deposition and the Resurrection.

      The refectory, like other religious institutions in Florence, was whitewashed in the mid…

      6. Basilica of Santa Croce (Basilica of the Holy Cross)
      This is the oldest of all the Florentine Last Supper frescoes. Painted by Taddeo Gaddi in 1340, it is the first Last Supper scene where you see Judas depicted on the opposite side of the table, a symbol of his betrayal and a way to spot him immediately in the group of apostles. This tradition of showing Judas this way is broken only by da Vinci in…

      7. San Michele a San Salvi Church
      If you really like these frescos, you can also add in the Andrea del Sarto Last Supper at San Salvi, a hidden jewel of a church on the outskirts of Florence, about a 15-minute walk west from Santa Croce church.

      Piazza di San Salvi, 10
      50135 Firenze, Italy

      Admission Free

      Tuesday-Sunday 8:15am-1:50pm

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re keeping me busy, Jane! I hadn’t found the one listed for the museum of Santa Maria Novella. And, what a tease, the info about the one in the San Marco Museum stops just when they were going to say what the cat represents!


    • I went and saw that the very same day, Brian. And, I sure do have more on the list. Now, I have to see if Jane listed any that I had overlooked.


  16. Jane

    Ghirlandaio did one at Ognissanti which is almost identical to this one.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Jane

    Hah….funny you should ask. I must now confess I will be in Milan this summer for a few days and have been reading up on last suppers. I came across this bird info just 2 nights ago:

    In the background there are cypress trees as symbols of redemption and lots of birds including a sparrow hawk attacking a duck – wicked as ducks represent earthly joys. Quails and starlings are symbols of self sacrifice and in the right hand window a peacock – whose meat was reputed never to go off – represents resurrection, supported by the immortal lark.

    I have grand plans to visit all the “Last Suppers” in Florence next time I return…..there are quite a few! The San Marco one is the one I have seen before and yes it is sad to watch people walk by without looking.

    PS…….lots of crests there!


    • Thank you for the explanation, Jane. How do people ever remember all this symbology? Crests, they are overloading my circuits!


      • Jane

        I guess if you couldn’t read you learned all these visual clues….like the crests…..all info for a bygone era….the immortal lark (can’t find much about what that meant)….though it seems they only sing as they fly upwards towards the heavens…hah. And thanks….I went back and read it more carefully…when you asked!

        Liked by 1 person

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