The National Gallery’s latest Renaissance instalment, Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice, turns the gallery’s walls into a colourful theatre of Venetian style and drama.
Veronese loved clothes. So much is evident from the canvases hanging in the upper rooms of the National Gallery, where Venetian noblewomen rustle against saints, gods and Roman soldiers in a parade of damask and taffeta. Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice, which took five years to organise and brings together fifty of the painter’s works from across Europe and the United States, has transformed the walls of the gallery into a sixteenth century catwalk, with the artist’s models cropping up again and again, clad in one lavish item of fine couture after another.
This is the first show in the UK devoted entirely to Veronese, which seems surprising given the artist’s stature as one of the foremost painters of the Venetian Renaissance, alongside Bellini, Giorgione, Titian and Tintoretto. But if Veronese’s reputation was big during the sixteenth century and in the centuries that followed, so were many of his canvases, making the staging of any exhibition a major logistical undertaking. A rumour that someone else in London was planning a show, a bout of jealousy on the part of Nicholas Penny – then newly appointed as Director of the National Gallery – and some hefty postage and packaging, however, have resulted in today’s display.