Born either in Ghent or Antwerp in 1483, Simon Bening became one of the most famous manuscript painters of the 1500s. He was the son of the miniaturist Alexander Bening (whose work is nearby). His long career in Bruges, where he worked from 1508 until 1555, was distinguished by a series of major commissions for celebrated families. This illuminated leaf, one of 11 preserved from the now lost parent manuscript, was painted for a member of the important Spanish family of Enriquez de Ribera, whose coat of arms appears at the bottom of the miniature.
The incident, shown in the upper register, during which Jesus gives a piece of bread to Judas (dressed in yellow and green) to indicate his knowledge of his betrayal, is depicted primarily according to the Gospel of John (13:21-30). In the lower register, Judas, realizing that his betrayal is understood, gets up suddenly to leave. His wooden stool topples over, and Christ’s words appear in a banderole: Quod facis fac cito ("What thou doest, do quickly," John 13:27). The two scenes are surrounded by an illusionistic border in liquid silver, with liquid gold acanthus, butterflies, and flowers. In the upper left of the border is the evangelist Matthew.