PICTURES OF THE BIBLE  © Serge Ceruti and Gérard  Dufour 2008






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The Supper at Emmaus, Diego VELASQUEZ; 1620 oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

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The Pilgrims at Emmaus








Three men are at table. Disappointed by the death of Christ, two disciples have met a man on the way to Emmaus. He has told them at length about Christ and they have invited the stranger to dinner.


The stranger is blessing the meal and breaking the bread when the disciples recognise the risen Christ.

This is a banquet in miniature in which we can see Jesus with the two men repeating the gestures of the Last Supper.



According to the tradition, the two disciples are presented as pilgrims so that their costumes are sometimes anachronistic (with a scallop-shell)


The scene is often intimate but, in the classical period, it may become a “scene de genre” with numerous servants; Christ and his disciples are then placed on one side.



It should not be confused with






The Last Supper, DUCCIO di Buoninsegna; 1308-11, tempera on wood; Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, Siena

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The Last Supper of Jesus and his apostles is often the model of the Pilgrims at Emmaus, but the greater number of people taking part is unmistakable.

See the Last Supper


Christ in the House of Martha and Mary; Jan VERMEER van Delft; 1654-55, oil on canvas National Gallery of Scotland, Edinburgh

CGFA - A Virtual Art Museum


Christ talks with two persons in a scene that can evoke Emmaus, but they are two women, Mary and Martha, Lazarus’ sisters. This scene is quite rare and is not a supper.





The Supper at Emmaus, Diego VELASQUEZ; 1620 oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 Web Gallery of Art


The Pilgrims at Emmaus

The Gospel according to Luke, chapter 24

After Christ’s death, his disciples are at a loss

Jesus joins them and they enter into a conversation without recognising him; Cleophas, one of the two men, tells about Jesus of Nazareth and his condemnation to crucifixion.

to day is the third day since these things were done.Yea, and certain women, also of our company, who were early at the sepulchre, astonished us;

And when they did not find his body, they came, saying that they had also seen a vision of angels who said that he was alive.

And certain of those who were with us went to the sepulchre, and found it even so as the women had said: but him they did not see.

And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself.

And they drew near to the village, whither they went: and he made as though he would have gone farther.

But they constrained him, saying, Stay with us: for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent. And he went in to tarry with them.

And it came to pass, as he sat at table with them, he took bread, and blessed it, and broke it, and gave it to them.

And their eyes were opened, and they knew him; and he vanished out of their sight.

And they said to one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?  (Luke 24:21-32)



This narrative of an apparition, which is particularly well composed, mentions the empty tomb. It makes a connection between the risen Christ and the Last Supper, during which Jesus broke some bread saying “this is my body”.

They have been given the name of pilgrims and the name has been kept.






The Pilgrims at Emmaus



The Supper at Emmaus, Diego VELASQUEZ; 1620 oil on canvas, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Web Gallery of Art


A few servants are added to extend the scene


Supper at Emmaus, Jacopo BASSANO, 1538; oil on canvas, cathedral of Cittadella, Italy

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Supper at Emmaus, TITIAN, 1535; oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris

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Here the supper takes place in an anecdotal context = a Flemish inn full of noises

The peasant meal reveals a new religious dimension


Supper at Emmaus, Jacob JORDAENS; 1645-1665; oil on canvas, National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin, Ireland

Olga's Gallery - Online Art Museum



Supper at Emmaus, LE NAIN brothers, 1645; oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris

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Towards a more spiritual work:

Making the altar table into a source of light Rembrandt turns the meal into a Last Supper while Pontormo places the divine triangle above Christ and monks in prayer around the Emmaus group of characters.


The Supper at Emmaus, REMBRANDT, 1648; oil on wood; Musée du Louvre, Paris

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Supper at Emmaus; Jacopo PONTORMO; 1525; oil on canvas; Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

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BIBLE PICTURES   © Serge Ceruti and Gérard  Dufour 2008