After the disciples dine together, the company passes into another chamber, the artist notes, where Jesus washes the feet of his followers, an act of selflessness and humility that presages his later sacrifice for the sins of mankind.
Although Peter, sitting at center with his hands at his head, protests his unworthiness, Jesus insists on the physical and spiritual necessity of the cleansing act. Hinting at his knowledge of his future betrayal by Judas, by saying that not all of his apostles are “clean,” Jesus nevertheless includes Judas in this rite. In Tissot’s image, Judas sits at the extreme left, his body uncomfortably twisted as he awaits his turn.
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James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Washing of the Feet (Le lavement des pieds), 1886-1894. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 9 3/4 x 16 11/16 in. (24.8 x 42.4 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.222
Purchased by public subscription
Image: 9 3/4 x 16 11/16 in. (24.8 x 42.4 cm); Sheet: 9 3/4 x 16 11/16 in. (24.8 x 42.4 cm)