LAST SUPPER OF THE
ISLAND OF HVAR


'Last Supper' the painting from the island of Hvar is one of the greatest masterpieces on the Adriatic coast, preserved through the centuries. The painting is kept in the dining-hall of Hvar's Franciscan Monastery, although its' author cannot be attributed with certainty to this very day.
There was a painter, a Venetian, renowned in his own era, who worked in the Middle East. When he started to suspect that he caught the plague, he got terrified and ran to see a doctor in the Egyptian Port Said. The doctor gave him a certificate, enabling him to embark the sailing ship leaving for Italy. The painter took only his painting kit, colours and brushes with him. His fever had already worsened when the ship was leaving Port Said, and after a week, when the ship sailed within reach of the islands of Korcula and Hvar, travellers denounced his illness.
There was no physician on the ship, and so the decision of the patient's destiny had to be brought up by the captain. The maritime laws of that time were tightened up to the very limits, due to the big plague epidemic. The traveller who died of plague on the ship would be thrown into the sea. If any other traveller was infected, he would also be thrown into the sea, as well as any other people who came into contact with the illness, in order to save the rest of the people aboard.
The captain's decision was forestalled by a strong cyclone, and so he decided to cast anchor some 200m from Hvar's port, on the small island of Galesnik, that was used as a ship's quarantine during the Middle Ages. The sailing ship stayed there for 40 days, exactly as prescribed by the rules, and since it was ascertained that not one of the 150 passengers and crew members got infected, they were free to move on. Sailors disembarked the painter on the shore of Hvar in a helpless and almost unconscious state.
Exhausted from his illness, he wandered from one house to another. All the doors shut in front of him, because everyone saw him as a source of infection, the possibility of the quick spreading of the plague. Nobody on the whole island wanted to be his host, and the local doctor stated that he was going to die. The painter also became convinced that he was going to die very soon. On the second or third day of his wandering, almost crawling, the languished painter knocked on the last doors. Those were the doors of the monastery.
Friars received this stranger as if he was their own brother, and succeeded to heal him with their medicines in a few weeks. Thankful for his miraculous healing, the artist decided to repay his debt. From Italy he ordered a big canvas, 8 meters long and almost 2 meters high. As a sign of his thankfulness, he worked for months and painted a painting in a tempera technique. The painting portrayed the motif of Christ's Last Supper in the company of his twelve apostles, and everyone who sees it admires it to this very day.
The painting covers an entire wall of the monastery's dining hall, and all the faces are portrayed in their natural proportions. It is assumed that the painter painted his self-portrait in the lower right-hand corner - in the shape of a poor man who is lying on the floor and returning the bowl to the apostle Matthew, his protector.