Saturday Art: Dali’s “The Sacrament of the Last Supper”

Please link here to view the painting as; ‘Reproduction, including downloading of Dali works is prohibited by copyright laws and international conventions without the express written permission of Artist Right Society (ARS), New York.’

A favorite of mine in all the world of artworks has always been Salvador Dali’s Sacrament of the Last Supper, which I visited often when I lived in the suburbs of D.C. During my visit this past week, I had the treat of seeing it again, now displayed in the East Building of the National Galleries.

The painting is of a surreal scene, depicting the apostles gathered around Christ when he announces his coming death, and betrayal. Evanescent behind is the chest with outstretched arms of what we assume is Dali’s idea of God. The figure of Christ is translucent, and floats on the scene behind of supposedly the Sea of Galilee. The personage itself is ephemeral, with bland and very anonymous features, as well. Not many intensely religious viewers feel comfortable with the scene. It is typically disturbing, one of Dali’s characteristics that I find most endearing.

Dali stated that this was an "arithmetic and philosophical cosmogony based on the paranoiac sublimity of the number twelve…the pentagon contains microcosmic man: Christ"

Dali uses a classic formula to plan his scene of the last supper.

Salvador Dalí explicitly used the golden ratio in his masterpiece, The Sacrament of the Last Supper. The dimensions of the canvas are a golden rectangle. A huge dodecahedron, with edges in golden ratio to one another, is suspended above and behind Jesus and dominates the composition.

The work was completed in 1955, and had been suggested by Chester Dale, one of Dali’s strongest admirers. It was given to the galleries in D.C. and is one of the most visited of all their works.

I admit that one of the picture’s attributes I enjoy most is the folds in the tablecloth and the robes of the disciples. I can easily see Dali smiling as he painted them in.

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