The Last Supper
Layout, Table and Chairs


Here are some of the not-so-obvious features you can see in the Last Supper painting by Leonardo Da Vinci if you examine it closely.

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One Long Table with Chairs?
This is another 'set the scene' situation. Back in the days of Christ, people didn't sit at giant, long tables like they do at the head table of modern day weddings! The table for the last supper should have had people all around it. And people didn't sit on hard chairs to eat, that was considered VERY bad for the digestion. They reclined on sofa-like divans, so that food was able to slowly work its way down into your stomach. Meals were very long, drawn out affairs, from 3-4 hours, so again food and wine had time to gently digest. There's no way that Jesus and his disciples would have been arranged anything like in the picture. However, of course, Leonardo was making a painting that he wanted viewers to connect with and understand. If he tried to show his Renaissance audience a large group of people AROUND a table lounging, it would have been extremely hard to show all of their faces, their reactions, and so on. So he adjusted the situation so all the faces were easily visible next to each other.




From a Visitor -
One more thing that I noticed about Leonardo's "The Last Supper". The 12 figures (not including Jesus) are grouped in sets of 3. What is your opinion of the significance of that? The Holy Trinity? Who knows, I'm an atheist, I'm just thinking out loud.

My Response -
Leonardo was well known for his love of symmetry, and if you really study the painting you'll find all sorts of balances left to right, up to down and so on. He often used guide lines and dividing triangles and so on in laying out his paintings. So most definitely he split them up into four groups of three all centered around the core figure. Each group of three is unique in its own manner. I don't think that had to do with the trinity as much as being an eye-pleasing way to handle all of those people.




From a Visitor -
I am not familiar with woodworking in present or past, but as I was studying The Last Supper I could not help but notice the angles of the table legs. It would appear that they are in the shape of the male icon, something of an upside down "V". Obviously, Mary M. and Jesus are making the symbol of the chalice, the female symbol "V" with the space between them (as well as an "M" with the space and their bodies). I am not certain if this is just the way tables were made in those times or if Leonardo was getting another point of belief across to those who were looking-the perfect union of male and female.

My Response -
Actually I just stared at it for a while and that table shouldn't be able to stand up. There are no "back legs". There are just pairs of legs going down at angles. Meaning the table would very easily tilt over forwards or backwards. Apparently this table was set up for show, as we discussed above, but wasn't meant to represent a "real table that people would eat at". Never mind that obviously there is no way for the men behind the table to all SIT and eat their food :)




From a Visitor -
A comment on the table: During Leonardo's time tables were simply long flat boards set up on trestles before a meal and taken down after the mean. The table legs shown is the painting are the legs of the supporting trestles. No doubt the back legs of the trestles were concealed by the disciples robes.

My Response -
Well yes, heck, even in modern times many people create long tables for banquets by putting long boards on trestles. But really, look at the painting. You can very clearly see the front two Vs and the shadows that are cast by them. There is no way that the back Vs could go into all of the apostles clothing and the clothing completely wrap around them. One would be right against Mary and there is no fold in her clothing to account for it. I think Leonardo was just cutting corners in order to show his image, and to show the back half of the trestle was not high on his list of things to worry about.










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