Bedford Hours, Paris about 1423

London, British Library, Add. Ms 18850, fol. 198

The main miniature of Christ’s Last Supper with his disciples is placed above decorated lines containing the Latin verse 17 of Psalm 50 (51): “O Lord open my lips and my mouth shall proclaim the praise”. An event preceding the Last Supper is depicted in the small miniature at the upper left border: One of Christ’s disciples, Judas – here still with his halo – is persuaded to betray his master to the chief priests for the reward of money (Matthew XXV, 14f – Mark XIV, 10 – Luke XX, 3f). Another scene, depicted in the right border (middle) shows Christ’s symbolic act of washing the feet of his disciples – as usually done by slaves – to teach them humility and how to behave towards each other in future.

The picture itself is mainly based on the scene in the Gospels after St John (XII; 20ff). It takes place in a churchlike Gothic fantasy-architecture of subtle colours of white, blue and red shades. The twelve disciples are sitting on wooden chairs and benches around the round table. Christ has his beaker with wine before him, to remind of his blood. He is deeply upset, his face bears a grievous expression while he says “one of you will betray me” (John XIII, 21)