Mark, stamped in black, lower left: ? Pen flourish, l.l. (Could this be the mark of collector, Pierre Crozat, 1661-1740?) In pen, on front of mount: Guido Reni In pencil, on front of mount: Reni and 1?32 In pen, on back of mount: No 5. ?Guido Reni Zeich? In pencil, on back of mount: Lot 94 and 15.
This pen, ink, and wash drawing on blue-gray paper is horizontally oriented. It portrays an open interior space, and on the left is a scene in the foreground with Christ with a halo, surrounded by four figures. Christ is kneeling before a seated man, with his right hand over his heart and his left arm indicating a basin of water on the floor. The seated man twists towards Christ with his arms stretching out away from Christ. All of the figures are dressed simply in flowing robes. The right side of the drawing portrays four figures in the background around a table by an open doorway gesturing in conversation. In front of the table are two vessels and a stool. At the far right, in the foreground, are two more figures, one seated on an object that bears the artist’s signature, and the other standing behind him and making a hand gesture towards Christ.
Derived from the New Testament story (John 13:1-17) of Christ washing the feet of his disciples at the moment of the Last Supper, Palma depicts the moment when Christ insists on washing Simon Peter’s feet. The disciple is hesitant to have his master perform such a humbling act, but Christ insists that this is setting a precedent for what the disciples will do after Christ is gone. Christ already knows that one of his disciples (Judas) will betray him, and the disciples pictured at the table in the background point to themselves as if they are questioning whether or not they will be the one to betray Christ. The scene is completed with classical imagery, in the columns of the architecture, the flowing robes, the vessels, and the muscular, expressive bodies.
A group of figures, all women and one child, look with concern towards the figure of a reclining woman at the right side of the composition who supports herself on one elbow on several low steps. The interior is only briefly described but is classical in proportions and details with a column and drapery behind the reclining woman. In the doorway at the far left are two other standing women talking with one another and gesturing towards the reclining figure.