Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice

Some people find peace and pleasure in music others sport for me art, proper art Italian and more specifically the Venetian Renassiance, has an amazing ability to bring me to another place or time. The Venetian school of art is my favourite, I love Titan but Veronese is a close second.

National Gallery has an exhibition of 50 pieces by Paulo Veronese, biggest exhibition of his work outside Italy, many of the pieced have not been together since they were in Veronese’s studio. An added bonus two if the stunning alter pieces have only left their churches twice where they are normally displayed to their lucky congregations.

First to the practicalities. Unlike my experience at the British Museum the other week, tickets and entrance to the exhibition was painless. However if you want an audio guide you need to pay cash. Being sans cash I ended up paying £7 (minimum transaction) for an audio guide on card my ticket had been torn so I couldn’t go & get cash come back. Apparently they are working to sort this out at least they acknowledge that this is a problem. The audio guide is clear and of the traditional kind with great experts and well narrated.

The only niggle I have is that the pictures and the audio guide are in an natural order for example painting Number 4 may not be next to 5 on the audio guide the next one maybe picture 7. This just shakes the experience up, to insure that I did not miss any I ticked them off in the brilliant little guide that you were given.

The small room where picture 6 was located was too small and more control to get people in would have been better This however is a very small niggle compared to the British Museum Vikings this was easy to move around exhibition.

The people who attended this exhibition were middle aged white and definitely middle class. I was sad to see no ethnic minorities or younger people, in my early thirties I must have really stuck out. Is this because a large part of Veronese’s art is religious catholic art? Who knows but it was sad to only see one type of person.

Also Thank You National Gallery plenty of seating throughout the exhibition made the whole experience much better. Sometimes it is nice to take stock of what you have seen, listen to the extras on the audio guide and look at the exhibition plan for a few minutes. 

Now to the treasure the paintings themselves. There was a wide variety of paints within the 50 displayed from early to late work, to secular and religious a great scope of this mans career. His career spanned almost 50 years from 1540s until his death in 1588. the paintings themselves held the trade mark of his preferred palette of colours rose pinks and greens favoured by the venetian school. He was expert at bear skin and material and the hands of his figures have a distinct style that is very Veronese. 

Through out his painting though we see glimpses of his home town of Verona. Although he worked in Venice he some times depicted Veronese marble and Romanesque towns like Verona in the back ground of images. 

The Conversion Of mary Magdalene Image not my own

The Conversion Of mary Magdalene Image not my own

One of the most striking paintings in the room with his early work is a painting named the Conversion Of Mary Magdalene. The trade mark use of light, hands and flesh are all present in a painting painted when he was just 20 years old. 

The dream of St Helena was perfectly executed and shows that

The Dream f St Helena Image NOT My Own

The Dream f St Helena Image NOT My Own

Saints were human to they slept and dreamt like us. The natural and slightly unlady like pose shows that she is dreaming. St Helena was the mother of Emperor Constantine. The colours and gentleness of this relatively small painting is very appealing. 


The room with the myths was stunning and you can clearly see the influence of Venice school and greats such as Titian in these paintings especially in the painting named Respect. 

Lucretia Image Not My Own

Lucretia Image Not My Own

The last room that had his later paintings in took on a darker theme and palette of colour and one of the most touching pictures was of Lucretia. The subject matter is of course dark she is about to commit suicide after being raped. She had told her father and husband but rather end her life than live with the shame. The colours are dull and the agony in her face is moving and tragic. 

The exhibition is well put together, the audio guide is detailed and adds to the experience, the paintings are well segregated into sections and lastly the gift shop was well stocked. All in all it was a delightful way to spend 1.5 hours on a wet Tuesday afternoon. Catch the exhibition at the National Gallery until 15th June 2014.

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One Response to Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice

  1. Lawrence Impey says:

    Loved the Lucretia painting and, also in the last room, Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane. For me the larger paintings were a bit overwhelming when seen together but are no doubt wonderful in their intended settings.

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