Today is Holy, or Maundy, Thursday, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet in an act of humility that is seen as a reminder of the cleansing waters of Baptism and a foreshadowing of the purification brought by the Crucifixion .

By Anne Leader

Today (24 March 2016) is Holy, or Maundy, Thursday, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet in an act of humility that is seen as a reminder of the cleansing waters of Baptism and a foreshadowing of the purification brought by the Crucifixion. After this ritual cleansing, Jesus shared his final meal, or Last Supper, with his followers, predicting his death and instituting the Eucharist for the first time. While the Last Supper was often painted by Italian artists as a stand-alone image in Italian refectories (monastic dining rooms), the less common scene of foot washing more typically appears alongside Last Supper imagery in Passion cycles. 

Giotto, Christ Washing the Feet of His Apostles and Last Supper, ca. 1305, Arena Chapel, Padua

Duccio, Christ Washing the Feet of His Apostles and Last Supper, 1308-11, Maestà, Siena, Museo dell’Opera del Duomo

Andrea del Castagno, Last Supper, 1447, fresco, refectory, Sant’Apollonia, Florence

Leonardo da Vinci, Last Supper, 1495-98, mural, refectory, Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan

Giovanni Agostino da Lodi, Washing of the Feet, 1500, panel, Venice, Galleria dell’Accademia

Andrea del Sarto, Last Supper, 1520-25, fresco, Convent of San Salvi, Florence

Palma Giovane, Washing of the Feet, 1591-2, oil on canvas, San Giovanni in Bragora, Venice

Tintoretto, Last Supper, 1592-4, oil on canvas, choir, S, Giorgio Maggiore, Venice

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