Inventory number
Tintoretto, Jacopo Robusti
The Foot Washing
210 cm x 533 cm
On display
San Marcuola, Venecia; colección de Carlos I de Inglaterra; adquirido en su almoneda por Houghton, 1651, quien lo vendió en 1654 a don Alonso de Cárdenas para don Luis Méndez de Haro, quien lo regaló a Felipe IV. Salas Capitulares de El Escorial, 1656-1936; depositada en el Museo del Prado por la Junta Delegada de Incautación, Protección y Conservación del Tesoro Artístico Nacional, 1936; por Decreto de 02-03-1943 quedó establecido su depósito en el Museo del Prado

This scene from the New Testament (John 13, 1-20) shows the moment just before the Last Supper, when Jesus washed Saint Peter's feet as an example of humility and service to others. The displacement of the main characters, Christ and Saint Peter, to one end of the composition is due to the original location of this work on the right wall of the presbytery of San Marcuola, where the image of Christ washing Saint Peter's feet was on the part of the canvas closest to the congregation. When seen from the right, the painting is extraordinarily coherent. The dead spaces among the characters disappear and the composition appears ordered along a diagonal that begins with Christ and Saint Peter and continues along the table and the Apostles around it, to end at the Arch behind the canal, which is the work's true vanishing point. This work is taken from “La Scena Tragica”, an engraving in Sebastiano Serlio's Secondo libro di prospettiva (Paris, 1545). On the right, the celebration of the Last Supper is taking place in another room. The inclusion of that episode is justified because those are two successive moments in the Bible story, but also as an allusion to the painting hanging across from this one at the presbytery of San Marcuola, which was a Last Supper, also by Tintoretto.

This work was acquired by Charles I of England. When he died, it was purchased by Luis de Haro, who gave it to Felipe IV. The King had it hung in the sacristy at El Escorial, where it remained until it entered the Prado Museum in 1939.


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