Inspired Through Art: The Last Supper by Tintoretto, 1594

Authored by Linus Meldrum in Issue #3.3 of The Catechetical Review

Jacopo Comin, who is known to us as Tintoretto, was born in Venice in 1518. He came by the name because his father was a fabric dyer (a tintore) and the young Jacopo, who started his painting vocation by daubing colors on the walls of his father’s workshop, was given the title “little dyer,” or tintoretto. He also acquired the title of “Il Furioso” for his “furious” and energetic approach to image making, which places him at the end of the High Renaissance into the style called Mannerism.

Tintoretto absorbed the influences of the Venetian artist, Titian, as well as the Renaissance powerhouse, Michelangelo. Tintoretto received the Venetian sense of rich, expressive color from Titian; he inherited the sense of dynamic figurative composition from Michelangelo. Tintoretto’s inventive mind added the elements of light, space and perspective, which are in great evidence in his late masterwork, The Last Supper, located in the church of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice.

In 1594, the last year of his life, Tintoretto took on the subject of the Passover meal Jesus celebrated with his apostles the night before he died. It is a remarkable re-visioning of what had been a standard approach, as painted by Leonardo da Vinci. Tintoretto chose a different literal narrative and a different visual narrative in this masterwork. In doing so, he reset the focus in a way that stimulates the Catholic imagination.

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This article is from The Catechetical Review (Online Edition ISSN 2379-6324) and may be copied for catechetical purposes only. It may not be reprinted in another published work without the permission of The Catechetical Review by contacting

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