Triptych of the Last Supper by Dieric Bouts
To mark the 25th anniversary of CODART, each month we introduce you to one of the hundred exceptional masterpieces of early modern Dutch and Flemish art (1350-1750) selected by museum curators from around the world for the CODART Canon. This time, all eyes are on the Triptych of the Last Supper by Dieric Bouts in the St Peter’s Church in Leuven.
Dieric Bouts (Haarlem 1410/1420-1475 Leuven), Triptych of the Last Supper, 1464-1468, St Peter’s Church, Leuven © M Leuven, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The Triptych of the Last Supper is an exceptional work for many reasons. The contract, dated 15 March 1464, and the receipt of payment have both survived. The triptych was commissioned by members of the Confraternity of the Holy Sacrament for their chapel in St Peter´s Church in Leuven. Two theology professors at the University of Leuven assisted the painter with the iconographic details of the altarpiece.
Detail of the Triptych of the Last Supper © M Leuven, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
Dieric Bouts created a sophisticated work in which scenes from the Old Testament culminate in the New Testament story of the Last Supper. Remarkably, Bouts situated this event in a contemporary dining room of a patrician house. Gothic windows on the left overlook a market square with a building reminiscent of the town hall in Leuven. Christ and his twelve disciples are assisted by four other figures, undoubtedly Bouts’ contemporaries.
Details of the Triptych of the Last Supper © M Leuven, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons
The significance of the altar is further enhanced by another fact: to this day, it has been preserved in St Peter´s Church in Leuven, where we too can view it, just as did Bouts’ contemporaries.
Olga Kotková, Senior Curator of Netherlandish, German and Flemish Paintings and Sculpture, The National Gallery in Pargue