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The last suppers

I told you a few days ago about going to visit a Peter Howson retrospective. While I was there, I saw his 2006 painting of The Last Supper.

While waiting for my train home, I popped into the National Gallery and happened upon Nicolas Poussin’s 1694 painting of (essentially) the same scene, The Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist.

Generally, I prefer more abstract paintings to ones with photo-like realism, but this pairing disproves that rule.

The Howson painting is clearly more abstract, yet I prefer the Poussin. I particularly like Poussin’s use of symbolic light. I also think the composition is clever: unlike most representations of the Last Supper, Poussin has shown the disciples seated around a table. Poussin’s disciples all seem to me to have their own personalities, whereas Howson’s seem more like an indistinct group.

I’ve probably seen more exhibitions this year than in the rest of my life combined, so it’s perhaps not surprising that some of my preconceptions are being challenged—but it nevertheless feels arresting to me!

This post was filed under: Art, Post-a-day 2023, , , .

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