Three Feminist Artists Respond to The Last Supper


Before the most recent feminist movement began, the accomplishments of women, when recognized in their own time, had been all but lost to the past. Women had no record of their own achievements to expand upon, and were considered professionals only if their title were wife or mother. In the early 1970s, however, a number of women courageously stepped up to the challenge of rewriting Western history, and additionally demanded the acknowledgement of women who were contributing to society in the present. Now, after years of rigorous research and diligent lobbying on the part of the feminists, students can find the names of accomplished women in their school textbooks, read an array of literature on women's achievements at the library, or even take courses in women's studies at local colleges and universities.

The Last Supper, one of the most reproduced images in W estem history, has been a preferred target for feminist artists because the famous male, Caucasian cast serves as a metaphor for the exclusion of women and individuals of color from positions of power over the centuries. However, thanks to three unique renderings of The Last Supper by feminist artists, Mary Beth Edelson, Judy Chicago, and Renee Cox, marginalized populations have been invited to table of history for the first time in two thousand years. Furthermore, these highly controversial artworks have challenged traditional gender roles and the omission of women's achievements from historical records, while forcing viewers to consider the often-disregarded issues of sexual discrimination and racism.

This study was designed to demonstrate the importance of feminist art in creating a more balanced view of history, while highlighting three specific artworks that provide a candid chronicle of women's struggles for representation and equality in society. Although these three pieces are often overlooked in academic texts and survey courses, undoubtedly, they would be an asset to any course or text that surveys the history of art and Western culture.


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Thesis Completion





Congdon, Kristin G.


Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Program



Arts and Sciences -- Dissertations, Academic; Dissertations, Academic -- Arts and Sciences; Feminism and art; Last Supper in art; Leonardo -- da Vinci -- 1452-1519 -- Last Supper







Access Status

Open Access

Length of Campus-only Access


Document Type

Honors in the Major Thesis

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