In this podcast Art Historian Elizabeth Lev discusses the tradition of Last Supper paintings – especially on refectory walls of religious communities.

[display_podcast] This podcast made available from Vatican Radio

Elizabeth Lev teaches art history at Duquesne Universitys Italian campus, including a survey of Christian art in Rome, a course of her own design. She also writes for Inside the Vatican and is a regular contributor to Zenit news agency.


Last Supper by Taddeo Gaddi – Santa Croce, Florence

source –

In about 1335 ca. Taddeo Gaddi (1300 c.a.-1366) in the ancient refectory of the convent of Santa Croce, created the Last Supper there. The fresco occupies a vast wall, depicting the Last Supper in the moment of the institution of the Eucharist and in the upper part there is the Tree of Life.

The colors, dark and strong, are often interrupted by the degradation of the fresco which has requested restoration work. Around the poor table are seated Jesus and the Apostles, while Jude, who gives his back, seems to be stretching out a hand to the Redeemer that teaches, admonishes and consoles the Apostles, whose faces appear dark, sad, and preoccupied.

Taddeo was the godson of Giotto, lived with him twenty-four years, and became the most eminent of his numerous scholars. Vasari says that he “surpassed his master in colour”, and, in some of his works, “even in expression”.

The best of his extant frescoes are those in the Giugni Chapel, formerly belonging to the Baroncelli family, in the church of Santa Croce, but his most extensive works, in the churches of San Spirito and the Serviti, have all disappeared.

Perhaps he is best known for the fact that he was a distinguished architect, and designed the present Ponte Vecchio in Florence, and also lower down the river a still finer bridge (Ponte SantaTrinita), which was destroyed in the sixteenth century.