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Studio of Pieter Coecke van Aelst I (Aelst 1502-1550 Brussels)
Studio of Pieter Coecke van Aelst I (Aelst 1502-1550 Brussels)

The Last Supper

Details
Studio of Pieter Coecke van Aelst I (Aelst 1502-1550 Brussels)
The Last Supper
dated '1539' (on the medaillon, centre left)
oil on panel
78.5 x 111 cm.
Provenance
(Possibly) Bayer, Elberfeld, Wuppertal, before 1911.
Literature
L. Ninan, 'Un "Christ et les Disciples d'Emmaüs" dans le style de Pierre Coecke', Musees Royaux des Beaux-Arts Bulletin, II, March 1953, p. 8.
G. Marlier, Pierre Coeck d'Alost, Brussels, 1966, p. 98, no. 33.
M. J. Friedländer, Early Netherlandish Painting, XII, Leiden, 1975, p. 36.

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Lot Essay

Pieter Coecke van Aelst's Last Supper was one of the most popular images of the 16th century. It freely combines the compositions of Leonardo da Vinci's Last Supper in Milan (1498) and Marcantonio Raimondi's engraving after Raphael's drawing of the same subject (circa 1510-20) and with the enigmatic gestures of the apostles from the popular print by Albrecht Dürer (1523). The scene with Cain and Abel on the medaillon on the right, is taken directly from a print by another popular Renaissance artist, Jan Gossaert, called Mabuse (active 1503-32).

About 50 versions of this composition are known, most of them from the workshop of Coecke van Aelst. Most are dated, of which the present work carries the date 1539. The painting accurately follows the composition of Pieter Coecke van Aelst's Last Supper. The inclusion of specific details such as the ornaments in the windows and the text in the medaillons shows that the painter was well acquainted with the original composition. The most notable difference between the present version and the others are the apostles' heads which differ in style and size from Coecke van Aelst. This variation of the heads - some of them are possibly portraits - points towards a 'customized' serial product. More than one hand can be distinguished in the present painting: the heads on the left and right clearly differ in quality. The specific likenesses and other details here are likely due to the request of the patron of this work.

We are grateful to Drs. Linda Jansen for her assistance in cataloguing this lot, after inspection of the original (written communication 4 March 2013).

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