Bella maniera last supper place setting overhead view

The Leonardo da Vinci painting The Last Supper is one of those instantly recognizable works of art, but unless you have studied art you may not know that there is a great deal of symbolism in the way that the figures are all positioned. Bella Maneira is a series of table textiles that explores that symbolism.

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Bella maniera last supper place setting

In sets of 13 place mats or three table runners, the series depicts Jesus and the 12 apostles of the Bible by showing only their hands. The positions of the hands hold the key to their owners’ identities. Some carry objects or wear adornments, and these too give clues as to which apostle they represent.

Luckily for those of us not versed in art history and Christian lore, there is a legend which identifies each pair of hands (click to enlarge). The legend also lists how each apostle appeared in the Leonardo painting for those eager to look for the similarities.

Bella maniera last supper place setting hands

The inventive and playful textile series is the work of French designers Mr. & Mr., who offer them for sale in their online shop.

More from the designers

This is no ‘last meal’! Inspired by Leonardo da Vinci’s representation of The Last Supper, Bella Maniera is a contemporary and playful table linen collection. Seat 13 people around the table and there will be no talk of bad luck. Like two illusionists, Mr.&Mr. invite imaginary guests to your table, freely inspired by the representation of the final meal of Christ and His disciples in Leonardo da Vinci’s famous painting. It’s a collection of household textiles which includes thirteen placemats and three runners digitally printed on fabric.Whether composite or serial, these placemats perfectly represent the divine adage of this famous meal, with elegance and sobriety.”

Bella maniera last supper place setting place mats

“Jesus and His disciples, represented by images of outstretched hands leaning on the elbows at the dining table, are displayed as a symbol or a ‘body language’ giving them their own unique character. Mr.&Mr., using radical aesthetics, divert from the tradition of a ceremonial meal in favor of a more friendly atmosphere with a spirit of togetherness and unity.By borrowing a collective symbolic vocabulary and diverting from the religious context, the two designers propose to create among friends or family, occasionally or on a daily basis, a playful convivial and contemporary dining table.”