Scientists using a computer algorithm to compare the various plate sizes in 52 of the most famous paintings of the Last Supper have found something strange: the portion sizes have been getting bigger and bigger. They studied images dating from the year 1000 to the year 2000 and felt that the increase in portion size is because of the increased amounts of food people ate over the corresponding time period.
“As the most famously depicted dinner of all time, the Last Supper is ideally suited for review,” Craig Wansink said.
From the 52 paintings, which date between 1000 and 2000 A.D., the sizes of loaves of bread, main dishes and plates were calculated with the aid of a computer program that could scan the items and rotate them in a way that allowed them to be measured. To account for different proportions in paintings, the sizes of the food were compared to the sizes of the human heads in the paintings.
The researchers’ analysis showed that portion sizes of main courses (usually eel, lamb and pork) depicted in the paintings grew by 69 percent over time, while plate size grew by 66 percent and bread size grew by 23 percent.
Portion Sizes in Last Supper Paintings Grew Over Time [LiveScience]