Veronese

We finally made it to the Veronese exhibition yesterday on the penultimate day before it closes:  a wonderful and nicely judged collection of paintings, demonstrating Veronese’s brilliant ability to create massed compositions, rich in visual incident, for the Venetian aristocracy in their villas and estates.   Full of small children, horses, dogs, spectators on distant balconies and beautifully painted fabric (but badly painted hands), many of the paintings are owned by the National Gallery itself, thanks to Charles Eastlake’s autumn shopping trips to northern Italy, armed with government money, when he was able to extract pictures from the impoverished Italian nobility.   Whilst many artists benefit from seeing their work en masse, I wasn’t convinced that this was true for Veronese.   Seeing them all together makes one realise the extent to which he replicates the same compositional formulae, using a wardrobe of cloaks and robes which reappear in different pictures.

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