Triptych of the Last Supper

Dieric Bouts, 1464 — 1468
St Peter's Church, Louvain

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 Louvain. Two theology professors at the University of Louvain assisted the painter with the iconographic details of the altarpiece. 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 Louvain. Christ and his twelve disciples are assisted by four other figures, undoubtedly Bouts’ contemporaries. The significance of the altar is further enhanced by another fact: to this day, it has been preserved in St Peter´s Church in Louvain, 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 Prague

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