Giotto. Washing of the Feet
Padua, Scrovegni/Arena Chapel
He loved his own in the world and he loved them to the end.
The devil had already induced Judas, son of Simon the Iscariot, to hand him over.
So, during supper,
fully aware that the Father had put everything into his power
and that he had come from God and was returning to God,
he rose from supper and took off his outer garments.
He took a towel and tied it around his waist.
Then he poured water into a basin
and began to wash the disciples’ feet
and dry them with the towel around his waist.
He came to Simon Peter, who said to him,
“Master, are you going to wash my feet?”
Jesus answered and said to him,
“What I am doing, you do not understand now,
but you will understand later.”
Peter said to him, “You will never wash my feet.”
Jesus answered him,
“Unless I wash you, you will have no inheritance with me.”
Simon Peter said to him,
“Master, then not only my feet, but my hands and head as well.”
Jesus said to him,
“Whoever has bathed has no need except to have his feet washed,
for he is clean all over;
so you are clean, but not all.”
For he knew who would betray him;
for this reason, he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
So when he had washed their feet
and put his garments back on and reclined at table again,
he said to them, “Do you realize what I have done for you?
You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am.
If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet,
you ought to wash one another’s feet.
I have given you a model to follow,
so that as I have done for you, you should also do.”
(John 13:1-15) Gospel, Evening Mass of the Lord’s Supper
In spite of the inclusion of many narrative details, such as the Apostle taking off his sandals at the far left, or the Apostle holding a water jug, who stands behind Jesus, the central image of the picture is the dramatic confrontation between two men, Jesus and Peter. This confrontation, though more benign than the confrontation between Jesus and Judas, is nonetheless intense.
|Detail of left side. |
Judas is clearly identifiable as the
central figure in the group of three
Apostles. He has a mustache and
"smokey" halo just as he does in
other paintings in the series.
With typical mastery of psychology, drama and visual clues, Giotto has created a powerful image of the Jesus’ message to His Apostles and to all His followers – “as I have done for you, you should also do.” (John 13:15)
© M. Duffy, 2011