1894 Maurice Denis (1870 - 1943)
oil on paper on cardboard on panel,
35.5 cm x 48.3 cm
Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam (purchased with support from the BankGiro Loterij)
This painting by Maurice Denis combines the Bible story of the Supper at Emmaus with the French artist’s everyday surroundings. The scene is set in the inn at Fourqueux, where the painter lived. The man praying on the right of the table is Denis himself, while the woman entering with the dish is his wife Marthe.
The style of the painting blends tradition and modernity in a similar way. The simple composition, with its glimpses of the exterior, recalls early Italian art, and the matt paint layer creates a fresco effect. The way the figures are built up from flat areas of colour, by contrast, gives the work a modern feel. The decorative, painted edge is also a contemporary touch.
The Supper at Emmaus was a recurring theme in Denis’s paintings, prints and drawings. His diary reveals that the subject had appealed to him ever since his honeymoon in 1893. He completed this painting the following year.