There is a version of The Last Supper that is not well known, but is, arguably, a much better version than the famous painting by Renaissance Master, Leonardo Da Vinci. But first we must discuss…what makes one work of art better than another? To answer this we must consider the purpose of a work of art. John Ruskin argues in his essay “On the Greatness in Art” that the best art is that which conveys the most ideas and in the most potent way possible. This is in contrast to the argument that the best art is that which
Which one better depicts the Last Supper? Depends on how you mean that. I like both paintings very much. I think everyone knows Leonardo's painting, even if they aren't Christian. The La Touche painting is one I've never seen before. I think the differences between the two are a function mostly of when they were painted. In Leonardo's time the goal of the artist was to glorify God with grandiose depictions of biblical stories. The impressionist style of La Touche is much more intimate and conveys a warmth that is lacking in a lot of Renaissance paintings.
So, which one is the better depiction depends on whether you favor something that conveys the grandness of God, or something that conveys the intimacy of the actual event of the Last Supper. Although, one could argue that the focus on the chalice in the La Touche painting accomplishes the first idea, just in a different way. On the flipside, the way the disciples are huddled together around the table in the Leonardo painting offsets the grandness of the room.
Overall, I favor the Leonardo painting, although that may just be out of familiarity.
Thanks for the interesting lesson.
I had no idea. Stuff like this is why i lurv substack.
You've stopped my in my tracks this morning. Your analysis is excellent. But to see for the first time that painting by La Touche has taken my breath away....and left me in awe of that moment that defined sacrifice, forgiveness and devotion.
You expose and embody a relationship to art that is novel and altogether meaningful. Thoughtfully written as always and very encompassing of how our perception can change the conception of what we regard in art <3
Leonardo's Last Supper is the best, hands down. This article is wrong (but still fun to read!).
Both paintings I believe are trying to convey different aspects of the Last Supper as you pointed out. Although I believe La Touche's painting is "better" insofar as it better reflects the Christian remembrance of the Last Supper, there is more of a mysticism surrounding Christ in La Touche's. He is in the center and there is a light surrounding him. Da Vinci's Christ lacks those elements and when you consider the background, he seems to blend in with it like the other apostles.
This line of thinking is one of the reasons why modern art has degenerated to the point it has today. To be led by feelings, pretty colours, and ambiguity which allows the viewer to inject their own bias, as opposed to learning something new.
You are using faults in the painters ability or in in this work in particular as pros. To be frank the draughtsmanship in Le Louche's painting is very poor, the faces are ugly block abstractions that look dead and have zero charm, the hands have these creepy undefined fingers with broken wrists. Let alone the complete blurred nature of the painting; the blurring of edges of less important parts can be good to emphasise the focus of a painting, which is crucial to great paintings, as seen in Velasquez's work. Hence the ethos that often it is that which you leave out which is more important than that you put in. However this isn't done with any of the finesse seen in Velazquez.
But this desiring of the blurry and carrying thoughts like 'but it is executed with such perfection in perspective that this becomes a focus of the painting itself.' Like this idea you can't have beautiful technique and beautiful story telling is haughty to see. As it is this which led to the ever growing blurriness, deadness and ugliness we see in Millet, Cezanne, Picasso, Pollock and so on, as we see art seriously decaying from around 1850 onwards.
The important point is to separate narrative and ideas that a painting may give you, from the quality of the painting itself. To you maybe the narrative and idea of focusing on the Eucharist (which is a lovely focus to have) makes Le Touche's better, as it speaks to you more (through the holy spirit). But this isn't the qualifier for a good painting or not, it's the equivalent of preferring a painting of a tiger over a painting of a lion, simply because you like tigers more than lions. As opposed to evaluating which is the better painting due to composition, draughtsmanship, story telling, light effects and so on. So the correct response to this later Painting isn't Touché, but passe.
Both are beautiful, it is hard to pick a favorite. Thank you for bringing the LaTouche version to my attention, I’d never seen it before and I am impressed with its movement and beauty.
Beautiful, other one I love is Dali’s version
Technically Leonardo is better, but spiritually Gaston's is better.
I prefer Da Vinci's except for the building they are located in. It looks cold, modern, not of the era.
Great pictorial analysis, although as a Traditional Catholic I reject the theological idea that the last supper is just a memory. Instead embracing the doctrine of transubstantiation.