Gaspar de Crayer Jan Cossiers
The Supper at Emmaus
The Supper at Emmaus, ca. 1650
Oil on canvas
85.1 x 111.1 cm (33 1/2 x 43 3/4 inches)
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Edward M. Harris 23.332
In this biblical scene Christ breaks bread to bless it and give it to his dining partners at Emmaus on the third day after his Resurrection. Jan Cossiers depicted the two companions of Christ at the moment when Christ’s divinity is revealed to them. The man at the far right throws up his hands in surprise, while the man in the center points in a gesture of identification. The cockle shells, crossed staffs, medal, and tall hat of the man at right designate him as a pilgrim to the shrine of Santiago de Compostela, the most important and popular pilgrimage site in Europe from the 9th to the 17th centuries. The anachronistic inclusion of a pilgrim in a biblical scene suggests that Cossiers made the painting for a particular patron, such as a church or confraternity associated with the saint. Cossiers was a follower of the Antwerp painter Pieter Paul Rubens, and the monumental sculptural figures and warm coloring of this scene reveal his influence. Here Cossiers contrasted the ruddy, dirtied hands and faces of the diners and serving woman with Christ’s untouched complexion.