Monday, June 23, 2014

Veronese, Paolo

The Marriage at Cana
oil on canvas
666 x 990 cm
Musee du Louvre, Paris, France

The Wedding at Cana was commissioned by the Benedictine monks for the San Giorgio Maggiore Monastery, on a small island across from Saint Mark's, in Venice. The contract insisted on the huge size, and that the quality of pigment and colors should be of premium quality. For example, the contract specified that the blues should contain the precious mineral lapis-lazuli, that the painting should include as many figures as possible. The scene, taken from the New Testament Book of John, II, represents the first miracle performed by Jesus, the making of wine from water, at a marriage in Cana, Galilee.

Paolo Caliari, known as Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) from his birthplace in Verona, the fifth child to a stone-cutter, was an Italian painter, born at Verona but active in Venice. Veronese, known as a supreme colorist, was one of the greatest of all decorative artists, delighting in painting enormous pageant-like scenes that bear witness to the material splendor of Venice in its Golden Age.

With Tintoretto, ten years older, he became the dominant figure in Venetian painting in the generation after Titian, at least a generation older. Veronese was one of the "great trio that dominated Venetian painting of the cinquecento" or 16th-century late Renaissance. He has always been appreciated for the chromatic brilliance of his palette, the splendor and sensibility of his brushwork, the aristocratic elegance of his figures, and the magnificence of his spectacle, but his work has been felt not to permit expression of the profound, the human, or the sublime, and of the "great trio" he has often been the least appreciated by modern criticism. Nonetheless, many of the greatest artists may be counted among his admirers, including Rubens, Watteau, Tiepolo, Delacroix and Renoir.