The desacralization of the post-Iconoclastic art (after 1566) seems to receive enough attention from scholars (here we should mention D. Freedberg, K. Jonckheere, L. P. Wandel), while the changes in representations of the scenes from the Holy Scripture of the first half of 16th century are relatively little-studied, though through these changes one could explain the scale and intensity of Icono­clastic Fury in the Netherlands. Therefore, it is not without interest to consider the ways of desacralization of religious imagery in the period that precedes Iconoclastic uprising — that of the first half of 16th century.
The “Last supper”, which is not frequently encountered in the Netherlandish painting in times of the “Flemish Primitives”, is experiencing its peak of popularity during the 16th century due to different factors of artistic as well as of ideological character. Influence of the Italian Renaissance, the fast spread of Reformation, which had as one of the key issues the essence and meaning of the Last Supper, — both contributed to the iconographic innovations in Dutch representations of this subject.
Obviously, it is the relative iconographic freedom (depicting the Last Supper the masters were less limited than in case of the Crucifixion), as well as the “Bilderfrage”, arisen by Reformation, that favoured the penetration of desacralization traits to the religious imagery.
We have followed the ways of desacralization relying on the examples of the “Last Supper” representations in the paintings of masters from the Northern Netherlands (J. van Ostsaanen, Amsterdam Master of Death of Mary), as well as in those of the South Netherlands (P. Coecke van Aelst, P. Pourbus the Elder, etc). We also draw on examples of decorative and applied arts representing the same subject as the traits of desacralization in their iconographical program were even more evident than in easel painting.