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The last supper in the style of the Cuzco school

Tierras Vivas Travel > The last supper in the style of the Cuzco school

“The Last Supper” the canvas is the scene of the famous work of Leonardo Da Vinci, one of the biblical passages most represented in religious painting is the scene where Jesus offers his disciples bread and wine, however, there are two paintings in South America that have become famous because Jesus shares with his apostles a cuy or guinea pig, that is, a typical dish of Andean cuisine. 

In the heart of Cusco, Peru hangs a one-of-a-kind religious and cultural painting that represents a very rare twist on an otherwise common image. 

The original bread and wine menu is a classic. However, this image of the Last Supper shows Jesus and his disciples dining on a uniquely local rodent delicacy. 

The Last Supper as painted by Marcos Zapata in 1753 stands out among the enormous collection of art and archaeological relics in the Basilica Cathedral in Cusco’s main colonial plaza. The large painting depicts Jesus and the twelve apostles gathered around a table preparing for dinner.a guinea pig. 

Not to be missed is the cooked guinea pig, feet up on a plate in the center of the table. Guinea pigs are native to Peru and can still be found today on many restaurant menus in Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca empire. 

History of painting “The Last Supper”

The artist Marcos Zapata was a Peruvian Quechua painter and a member of the School of Cusco, a tradition of teaching European art techniques in the Americas that the Spanish used as a method to convert the native Incas to Catholicism. Various painters at this time incorporated indigenous elements into religious works, but it is surprising that this work of art was tolerated by the Catholic Church, especially during the time of the Inquisition. 

However, the last supper of the guinea pig survived, probably because when the Spanish built several cathedrals a great deal of art was required to decorate these new places of worship; the Church was unlikely to punish an artist as prolific as Zapata. The locavore version of the Last Supper was even seen as a positive way of converting the natives to the new religion.

Canvas Interpretation

Zapata’s Last Supper offers another version of European religious art, but with some details that do not go unnoticed and that reflect the indigenous world. Christ is sitting with his disciples around the table and on it a dish with a baked cuy (or guinea pig) that replaces the traditional paschal lamb, so that in the paschal dinner we also find western foods: bread and the wine. 

The Last Supper is a recurring iconographic theme in European religious art and there are many versions. Zapata offers the same scene but with some details that do not go unnoticed and that reflect the indigenous world. Christ is seated with his disciples around the table and on it a dish with a baked cuy (or guinea pig) that replaces the traditional Paschal lamb. The guinea pig is not the only typical food of the region that Zapata included in this work, you can also see corn, chili and some fruits. But as we have said before, the works of the Cuzco school of painting fused the meeting of two cultures, so that in the Easter dinner we also find Western foods: bread and wine. 

This painting could represent the subordination of the indigenous culture of America by European colonialism and the religion brought to Peru by the conquerors: Christianity. Even if you look at the painting carefully, you can see that Judas (looking straight ahead) is the only one portrayed with mestizo skin, while Jesus and the rest of the disciples, with white skin. However, this work could also be interpreted as a manifestation of rebellion, since the main food of the Easter dinner is a baked guinea pig, a typical indigenous food. 

In addition, Zapata represents two passages from the Bible in his work: Jesus having dinner for the last time with his disciples and Jesus crucified (which can be seen on the left side of the painting), a detail that also differentiates this work from other versions.

The Cathedral of Cusco

The Cathedral of Cuzco or Basilica Cathedral of the Virgin of the Assumption is the most important Religious Monument in the Historic Center of Cuzco, in Peru, the same one that houses this pictorial work of singular syncretism.

Located in the city’s Plaza de Armas, the Basilica Cathedral of the Assumption took almost 100 years to build, finally being completed in 1654. As well as being a place of worship, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and houses a large collection of the Cusco colonial art.

The architecture of the Cathedral of Cuzco is in the Renaissance style and its interior is in the Baroque, late-Gothic and Plateresque styles. It boasts an extensive collection of paintings by the main exponents of the Cuzco school of painting and one of the most outstanding examples of colonial goldsmithing and carved wooden altars. For all these reasons, the Cathedral is an obligatory stop when visiting Cuzco.

Find out before you go

The cathedral is located in the Plaza de Armas of Cusco. Visiting hours are Monday through Sunday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm. Tickets cost S/. 25.00 for adults and S /. 12.00 for students.

Best Tours in Peru

Many are the routes that take you to Machu Picchu, but none is like the Inca Trail Tours, the most famous pedestrian path in the Americas. After flying from the capital of Perú, Lima, you will arrive in Cusco to walk for four days along a path through forests and dense fog, millenary stone steps and discovering the ruins of ancient fortifications and Inca cities, and all the time enjoying majestic views. 

If you want to visit Machu Picchu, we recommend you to book your Machu Picchu Ticket in advance, so you will enjoy your Vacation in Machu Picchu without any problem.

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