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Jacopo Tintoretto, Christ washing the Feet of the Disciples

Key facts
Full title Christ washing the Feet of the Disciples
Artist Jacopo Tintoretto
Artist dates about 1518 - 1594
Date made about 1575-80
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 204.5 × 410.2 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1882
Inventory number NG1130
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Christ washing the Feet of the Disciples
Jacopo Tintoretto

After supper with his disciples, Christ rose and began to wash their feet (John 13:2–17). When Peter refused to allow this, Christ replied that if Peter would not allow him to wash his feet then he had no place with him. Peter then asked Christ to wash his hands and head as well, but Christ said those who were clean only needed to have their feet washed. He told the disciples that they should follow his example and wash one another’s feet. The episode illustrates the need for self-abasement and fraternal love, as well as for purification by Baptism and penance.

The picture was commissioned by the Scuola di Santissimo Sacramento for the chapel of the Most Holy Sacrament in S. Trovaso, Venice, where it hung opposite Tintoretto’s Last Supper (still in the chapel today).

The painting is very damaged and worn and the paint has darkened in many places. The checkered floor was schematically repainted in the nineteenth century.

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