‘Portion Distortion’ Creeps Into Last Supper Paintings
Posted on Mar 25, 2010
Imagining and depicting Jesus’ final meal with his apostles has been an artistic obsession since the dawning of the Common Era, and thus it’s only fitting that the holy vittles on their plates might reflect the attitude about food prevalent in the cultures that produced the artists.
The order of the day for more recent images would, not surprisingly, be “supersize me,” according to an academic study that surveyed images of the Last Supper created over several centuries. —KA
Los Angeles Times:
Using the size of the diners’ heads as a basis for comparison, the Wansinks used computers to compare the sizes of the plates in front of the apostles, the food servings on those plates and the bread on the table. Assuming that heads did not increase in size during the second millennium after the birth of Christ, the researchers used this method to gauge how much serving sizes increased.
And increase they did.
Over the course of the millennium, the Wansinks found that the entrees depicted on the plates laid before Jesus’ followers grew by about 70%, and the bread by 23%.
As entree portions rose, so too did the size of the plates—by 65.6%.
Wikimedia Commons / The Yorck Project
The bread of life, and then some: Portion sizes are clearly still far from the all-you-can-eat side of the spectrum in this 16th century painting by Juan de Juanes.