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The Last Supper
  • In this scene, the disciples’ reactions to the news are highly individualized. Van Orley realized tapestry’s potential for emulating monumental painting through the rhetorically gesturing figures engaged in a moment of high drama.
  • In the lower right corner, Judas, who is the betrayer, is standing up to leave. He is identified as the guilty party by the pouch of money tucked into his belt.
  • Van Orley combines the physicality of the space with the Northern love of detail and decoration. The elaborate veining in the marble work reflects this taste for visual detail and rich surface ornament.
  • The exquisite details along the border include pomegranates and grapes, which are symbolic of the Passion of the Christ.
  • In the far right corner we see the episode where Christ washed the feet of his disciples before they ate. The scene takes place in van Orley’s imagined Classical structure and reflects the influence of Italian architecture and Roman antiquity.
  • The profound emotion and drama of the scene is reflected in the central subject. Christ’s face shows the recognition that inevitable death is approaching, and that it has been engineered by one of those in this room. Only he knows the full import of the sacrifice that he is about to make.

Close-ups

"The Last Supper” is part of a series of four tapestries illustrating the Passion of the Christ. In this scene, Christ is having supper with the disciples, and he tells them that he knows one of them will betray him. Zoom in on the tapestry to see the intricate details of the scene.


Then watch a video of Nelly Vandenbrande, from the DeWit Royal Manufacturers of Tapestry, N.V., Mechelen, Belgium, weaving a small section of tapestry on a low-warp loom.

The “Last Supper” is part of a series of four tapestries illustrating the Passion of the Christ. In this scene, Christ is having supper with the disciples, and he tells them that he knows one of them will betray him. Zoom in on the tapestry to see the intricate details of the scene. Then watch a video of Nelly Vandenbrande, from the DeWit Royal Manufacturers of Tapestry, N.V., Mechelen, Belgium, weaving a small section of tapestry on a low-warp loom.

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Information

The Last Supper, ca. 1524-6 (design), ca. 1525-28 (woven)
Bernard van Orley (Netherlandish) and Pieter de Pannemaker (Netherlandish)
Wool, silk, silver-gilt thread
Robert Lehman Collection, 1975 (1975.1.1915)