CHEERS! : ‘The Wedding at Canna’ by Paulo Veronese (1562 – 1563)

 ‘He is the treasurer of art and of colours. This is not painting, it is magic that casts a spell on people who see it.’ – Marco Boschini

Paulo Caliari, popularly called Paulo Veronese, is one of the most celebrated Italian Renaissance artist of all times. He was born in 1528 to a stone-cutter in Verona, then the largest possession of Venice on the mainland. The wonderful lights and the boisterous sounds of the Mediterranean lagoon city collides with the chromatic splendour of his palette, the brilliance of his brushwork and the fanciful aura of his figures. The magnificence of his spectacle is no better represented then in today’s painting titled ‘The Wedding at Canna.’

The scene is set within a two-tiered Greco-Roman courtyard flanked by aristocratic architecture. Elegant fluted columns topped by Corinthian capitals frame the upper plaza while pink pillars with Doric capitals fringe the lower dining scene. The soft Venetian air pervades the majestic marble casting a smooth shadow upon its silken surface. The bell tower and the classical sculptures arise and attest to the adventures of time. Veronese clearly blends the biblical with the contemporary.

The banquet is indeed a feast to the eye. As a bulging band of balustrades divides the scene into two parts, we are invited to join the no less than 130 figures sporting charming coiffures and agile adornments. It is an astonishing array of royalty, noblemen, clerks, princes, orients in turbans and the populace. Among the who’s who are included Emperor Charles V, Eleanor of Austria, Francis I of France, Mary I of England, Suleiman the Magnificent and Cardinal Pole. In service, they are accompanied by servants, jesters, dwarfs and frolicking pets such as cats, dogs and even a parakeet.

The sumptuous display enhances the affluent aura. Notice the luxurious tableware, the elegantly carved furniture, silver vessels, crystal goblets, gold jars, porcelain vases etc. Before each guest is arranged a set of napkin, fork, knife and a dish. Veronese’ eye escapes no detail.

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