Giovanni Battista Tiepolo
The Sacrifice of Melchizedech

1740-42
Oil on canvas, 393.7 x 206.7 in. (1000 x 525 cm.)
Church of St. Gangolf, Wolpertswende, Germany

The episode shown is in Genesis 14:18-20. Melchizedech's sacrifice of bread and wine is a type of the sacrifice of Christ in the Letter to the Hebrews (5:5-7), and of the Eucharist in subsequent theology. Tiepolo's painting follows this line of thought. As the prototype of both Christ and the Christian priests, Melchizedech elevates the bread after consecrating it, and stands at an altar resembling those used in the Catholic Mass.

As is common in medieval images of this episode, Abraham is dressed as a warrior who kneels before the sacrament, as is proper for a medieval layman, while his army looks on. The figures in oriental dress may be the King of Sodom and his people. In Genesis he greeted Abraham upon his return from victory, just before the arrival of Melchizedech.

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Source: Wikimedia Commons