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Venetian School. Paolo Caliari, known as Paolo Veronese.
LONDON, NATIONAL GALLERY
THE FAMILY OF DARIUS AT THE FEET OF ALEXANDER The captive family, in rich garments of rose, gold, blue, and scarlet, presented to the King by one of the ministers of Darius, are kneeling in the centre; Alexander and his Generals, Hephaestion and Parmenio, are on the right in dull green, crimson, and siena yellow.
In the background is a marble arcade, from the top of which many spectators are looking down.
Painted after 1580 for the Pisani family at Este, the principal figures probably being portraits of members thereof.
" The celebrated picture of the wife of Darius mistaking Hephaestion for Alexander. In excellent condition; perhaps the only existing criterion by which to estimate the genuine original colouring of Paul Veronese." (Rumohr.)
Purchased at Venice from the Count Vittore Pisani in 1857 for L14,000.
ST. HELENA: VISION OF THE INVENTION OF THE CROSS The saint reclines on the right on a marble window-seat asleep, her head on her right hand. Her dress is gold-grey and amber-rose. Through the open window are seen two cherubim flying with a cross.
Once the altar-piece of a chapel dedicated to St. Helena at Venice. It afterwards belonged to the great Duke of Marlborough.
Purchased from the Novar Collection in 1878.
THE MARRIAGE AT CANA An immense canvas painted in 1563 for the refectory of the Convent of St. George in Venice. It was taken to Paris in 1797, and the Commissioners, after I815, shrinking from the physical difficulties of transporting it back, took in exchange a picture by Le Brun, now in the Academy at Venice.
In a courtyard enclosed by marble colonnades, behind which is seen the open sky and buildings an either side, is a long table with " horseshoe " ends. Christ seated facing us in the centre, with His mother on His left, is performing the miracle; but our attention wanders in so vast a composition to the guests, many of whom are recognisable as contemporaries of the painter. On the left a negro servant hands a cup of wine to the Marquis d'Avaloz, next to whom is Eleanor of Austria, Queen of France; next to her, again, is Francis I. and Mary, Queen of England, in a yellow gown. Farther along, next to Soliman L, is the Alarquise de Pescaire chewing a tooth-pick, and farther along, at the corner, the Emperor Charles V. wearing the Order of the Golden Fleece. In the centre foreground is a group of musicians, amongst whom are seen Titian with the double bass, Bassano with a flute, and Veronese himself with the viola. In a lofty gallery at the back are numerous other figures.
THE HOLY FAMILY AND SAINTS A tall altar-piece with a round top, in which the conventional grouping has been somewhat disarranged. The Virgin is enthroned in a semicircular alcove hung with gold and black embroidery; but the pedestal on which the throne is set is nearly breast high, and we are standing, not in front of it, but on the right side. The centre foreground is accordingly filled by one of the high plinths that flank the pedestal,and on it is standing with his back to us the infant St. John, looking up at the Child (who stands in His mother's arms), His left hand resting on the upturned palm of St. Francis, who, in monk's habit, leans his left elbow on the plinth as he stands beside it. Behind him is seen the head of St. Justina. On the other side (right) St. Jerome, in rose-coloured brocaded robe and crimson cape, leans, holding a book. Behind St. Francis rises a fluted pilaster, and the Virgin, with St. Joseph on her left, are to the right of this. A strong light is coming from behind us on the left.
Painted c. 1550 for the Church of San Giobbe, Venice.
THE FEAST AT THE HOUSE OF LEVI A very large oblong picture, which occupies the whole of one of the end walls of the Sala di Paolo Veronese.
Through the round arches of the upper story of a lofty open arcade of three bays are seen against a blue sky the white buildings of the city. Thirty or forty guests-small figures in so large a setting-are seated at a table ranging along the whole length of this arcade. The central bay is entirely open to our view, but those on either side have a low balustrade, while a staircase, also balustraded, leads downwards to the corners of the canvas. At the foot of the two massive pillars dividing the three bays are standing, on the right, a portly steward, and on the left Levi himself calling out orders to the servants. Christ is seated in the centre facing us, with St. Peter at His right.
Painted in 1572 for the Convent of St. John and St. Paul for a very small sum, to replace a picture of the same subject by Titian which had been burnt.
( Originally Publihed 1910 )