Paolo Veronese, Italian (1528 - 1588)

Paolo Veronese

Paolo Caliari, known as Paolo Veronese (1528 – 19 April 1588) was an Italian Renaissance painter based in Venice, most famous for large history paintings of both religious and mythological subjects, such as The Wedding at Cana and The Feast in the House of Levi. With Titian, who was at least a generation older, and Tintoretto, ten years older, he was one of the "great trio that dominated Venetian painting of the cinquecento" or 16-century late Renaissance. Veronese is known as a supreme colorist, and after an early period with Mannerist influence turned to a more naturalist style influenced by Titian.

His most famous works are elaborate narrative cycles, executed in a dramatic and colorful style, full of majestic architectural settings and glittering pageantry. His large paintings of biblical feasts, crowded with figures, painted for the refectories of monasteries in Venice and Verona are especially famous, and he was also the leading Venetian painter of ceilings.

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".

Veronese took his usual name from his birthplace of Verona, then the largest possession of Venice on the mainland. The census in Verona attests that Veronese was born sometime in 1528 to a stonecutter named Gabriele, and his wife Catherina. He was the fifth child to a stone-cutter, or spezapreda, by the name of Gabriele. It was common for surnames to be taken from a father's profession, and thus Veronese was known as Paolo Spezapreda. He later changed his name to Paolo Caliari, because his mother was the illegitimate daughter of a nobleman called Antonio Caliari. His earliest known painting is signed "P. Caliari F., "the first known instance in which he used this surname", and after using "Paolo Veronese" for several years in Venice, after about 1575 he resumed signing his paintings as "Paolo Caliari". He was often called "Paolo Veronese" before the last century to distinguish him from another painter from Verona, "Alessandro Veronese", now known as Alessandro Turchi (1578–1649).

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