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Secret Symbols: Chevron & Pontormo’s “Last Supper”

With the success of the Da Vinci Code many have reclaimed an interest in the art of Leonardo Da Vinci – and more specifically, his painting of the “Last Supper.” However, few have garnered the same enthusiasm for one of his students, Jacopo da Pontormo (1494-1557), whose work Supper at Emmaus (1525) may shed even greater light on the significance of the supposedly secret symbol of the All-Seeing Eye.

The work itself represents the “other Last Supper” – the supper that Jesus shares with his disciples after his resurrection, as depicted in Luke, chapter 24. What is peculiar about the painting is that it features a representation of the All-Seeing Eye above Jesus’ head.

According to some art historians, the Eye was added several decades later (after the Council of Trent), replacing Pontormo’s original symbol of the three-faced head, which was a Christian symbol of the Holy Trinity prior to the Counterreformation. Others say there was originally nothing in its place, and therefore have opted to remove it altogether from the piece.

What exactly Pontormo’s intentions were for the symbol, unfortunately remains somewhat of a mystery. Some assert that the eye, which features a background of clouds, is intended to link the “revelation” made by Jesus at the supper to that of Revelation 1:7: “Look, he is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced him; and all the peoples of the earth will mourn because of him. So shall it be! Amen”.

The symbol itself would eventually come to represent the organization of the Freemasons, although its Christian underpinnings would never be forgotten.

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