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Paolo Veronese

Veronese, Paolo (päˈōlō vārōnāˈzā) [key], 1528–88, Italian painter of the Venetian school. Named Paolo Caliari, he was called Il Veronese from his birthplace, Verona. Trained under a variety of minor local artists, he was more influenced by the works of Giulio Romano, Parmigianino, and particularly Titian. His early specialty was decorative fresco, most of which are now lost. In 1555 he was in Venice, where he began to develop his characteristic opulent use of color. His talent was quickly recognized. Commissioned to work on the ceilings in the ducal palace, he painted Age and Youth and Hera Presenting Gifts to Venice. His pictures are crammed with figures arranged in a sinuous spatial pattern. Complex mannerist devices are evident in the Giustiniani altarpiece (San Francesco della Vigna, Venice) and in the many works he executed for the Church of San Sebastian. About 1566 he decorated the villa at Maser (near Vicenza). Depicting landscapes, mythological scenes, and portraits, he achieved ingenious examples of illusionism.

Veronese is known chiefly for his religious feast scenes, which he interpreted in a notably secular manner, as in the Supper at Emmaus (Louvre), Marriage at Cana (1562; Louvre), and Feast in the House of the Pharisee (c.1570; Milan). In these scenes he emphasized splendor of color and lavish accessories, banquet delicacies, highly fashionable courtiers, soldiers, musicians, horses, dogs, apes, and magnificent buildings. In 1573 the artist was called before the Inquisition because certain details in his depiction of the Last Supper were considered irreverent. He defended himself valiantly and ultimately changed the title of the work to Feast in the House of Levi (now in the Academy, Venice). In 1576 he painted one of his most famous works, The Rape of Europa, now in the ducal palace. After the fire of 1577 he was employed in the reconstruction of the ducal palace, where he executed the splendid Triumph of Venice and Venice Ruling with Justice and Peace.

Veronese ranks among the greatest of Venetian decorative painters for his harmonious tonalities and rich textures. Many of his works are in American museums, including Venus and Mars United by Love (Metropolitan Mus.), The Choice between Virtue and Vice and The Choice between Wisdom and Strength (Frick Coll., New York City), Lady with her Daughter (Walters Art Gall., Baltimore), Creation of Eve (Art Inst., Chicago), a family portrait (California Palace of the Legion of Honor, San Francisco), two allegorical paintings (Los Angeles County Mus. of Art), and a family portrait and Rest on the Flight to Egypt (Ringling Mus. of Art, Sarasota, Fla).

See biography by A. Orliac (1940); studies by W. R. Rearick (1987), A. Priver (2001), P. De Vecchi et al. (2004) and R. Cocke (2002 and 2005).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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