A major new exhibition devoted to one of the most influential artists of the 16th century, titled, Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice, is to open at the National Gallery in February. This exhibition of 50 of his works, many of which are travelling to London from across the globe, is the most significant collection of masterpieces by the artist ever to be displayed in the United Kingdom.
Paolo Caliari (1528–1588), known as Veronese, was one of the most renowned and sought-after artists working in Venice in the 16th century. His works adorned churches, patrician palaces, villas and public buildings throughout the Veneto region – and are inseparable from our idea of the opulence and grandeur of the Republic of Venice at that time.
Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice brings together works from every aspect of the artist’s oeuvre: portraits, altarpieces, allegorical decorations and mythological works. Paintings in this exhibition represent the very peak of the artist’s output at every stage of his career.
Important loans to the exhibition include works from churches and art galleries across Europe (Austria, France, Italy and Spain) and the USA. The exhibition displays many of Veronese’s most celebrated works, including The Martyrdom of Saint George (about 1565) on loan from the church of San Giorgio in Braida, Verona, and The Mystic Marriage of Saint Catherine (1565-70, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Venice). Neither of these great altarpieces has previously been seen outside Italy and the exhibition will enable visitors to compare them with Veronese’s most accomplished secular painting of the same period, the magnificent Family of Darius before Alexander (1565–7), which was among the first great works acquired by the National Gallery in mainland Europe.
Highlights of the exhibition include the display of three of the artist’s most beautiful portraits from the period of his arrival in Venice: Portrait of a Gentleman (about 1555, Palazzo Pitti, Florence), the Portrait of a Woman, known as the ‘Bella Nani’ (about 1555–60, Musée du Louvre, Paris) and the Portrait of a Gentleman (1560-65, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles).
Works from the artist’s early caree r are reunited in the exhibition for the first time in hundreds of years. These include two companion altarpieces painted for the church of San Benedetto Po near Mantua: The Virgin and Child with Saints Anthony Abbot and Paul the Hermit (1562, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia) and the National Gallery’s ownConsecration of Saint Nicholas (1562). Mars and Venus United by Love (about1570-1575, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) leaves the USA for the first time since 1910 for the exhibition and is reunited, for the first time since the 18th century, with the National Gallery’s Four Allegories of Love (about 1575).
The National Gallery’s Adoratio n of the Kings (1573), painted for the church of San Silvestro in Venice, long one of the artist’s most admired paintings and recently cleaned, will be shown beside an altarpiece of the same subject, painted in the same year for the church of Santa Corona, Vicenza. These pictures have never been seen together since they were in the artist’s studio.
Born in Verona in 1528, the son of a stonecutter, Veronese entered into the workshop of Antonio Badile in 1541. Working in Verona, he completed important commissions for churches and aristocratic families such as the Canossa and Bevilacqua.
In the early 1550s, Veronese moved to Ven ice, a city he rarely left. It was here, endorsed by Titian, and working alongside Jacopo Sansovino and Andrea Palladio, that he was established as one of the leading artists in Europe. His posthumous reputation has been as consistently high as his influence has been strong. The work of Van Dyck, Rubens, Watteau, Tiepolo and Delacroix depend upon his example.
“From the deftly captured shimmer of a pearl, to the sweep and splendour of his architectural settings, Veronese’s mastery of colour, space and light, and his feeling for beauty, for opulence and grace, have captured the imagination of countless artists and art lovers ever since.” – Director of the National Gallery, Dr Nicholas Pennny
This exhibition forms part of Renaissance Spring, a season of exhibitions and events celebrating the Renaissance at the National Gallery. Strange Beauty: Masters of the German Renaissance (19 March – 11 May 2014)
Photo: Veronese, The Martyrdom of Saint George, c. 1565, © San Giorgio in Braida