10 Last Suppers: Bigger Portions Over Time?
The largest supper?
Bigger portions and plates are one reason for the obesity epidemic. But is portion distortion a new phenomenon?
To find out, researchers (and brothers) Brian and Craig Wansink examined 52 famous paintings of the Last Supper and published the results this week in the International Journal of Obesity. Over the past 1,000 years, they found, entrÃ©e size grew by 69%, plate size by 66%, and bread size by about 23%.
Although the Wansinks don't specify which paintings they analyzed, they culled them from the book Last Supper. Did the portions really get bigger? Judge for yourself. Here's a chronological look at depictions of the world's most famous dinner party.
Pietro Lorenzetti (1320)
With only one visible main dish, there won't be any overeating at this medieval Last Supper.
Jaume Huguet (1470)
Times were tough some 2,000 years ago. Split one lamb between 13 people, throw in some bread and red wine, and you've got a veritable feast.
While the Bible lists only bread and wine on the menu, lamb traditionally would have been served at a meal like this, according to the study.
Leonardo da Vinci (1498)
In this, the most famous of all the Last Supper depictions, Christ opens his arms before a selection of small bread loaves.
Hans Holbein the Younger (1525)
The plate of bones near Christ suggests this meal is over, so it's hard to judge how large the portions were.
Jacopo Bassano (1542)
Head of lamb, anyone? In addition to the traditional bread and wine, this supper includes one perfectly ripe orange.
Jacopo Tintoretto (1594)
This meal looks as though it could feed 20, never mind 13. The bread loaves laid out on plates along the table are smallindeed, they look more like dinner rollsbut they are many.
Frans Pourbus the Younger (1618)
This appears to be yet another lean Last Supper: The only food is the bread and wine mentioned in the Bible.
Nicolas Poussin (1640)
This somber scene suggests the Wansinks were on to something. This Last Supper boasts an enviable spread, centered around what appears to be a succulent rabbit.
Philippe de Champaigne (1652)
The table in this Baroque masterpiece is bare, save for the piece of bread Christ holds in his hand.
Salvador Dalí (1955)
It's hard to tell what's on the menu at this surrealist Last Supper, but the portions certainly don't look very big.