Paolo Veronese (1528 – 1588)

Paolo Veronese

The Visitation

Venice, 1577

Oil on canvas

277.5 x 156 cm

Paolo Veronese is one of the most important Venetian painters of the sixteenth century. His paintings have long been popular among British art collectors and The Visitation has a lot to do with why.

This painting was one of the altarpieces for the now-destroyed San Giacomo (Saint James’s Church) in Murano, Venice. This church was an Augustinian nunnery. The painting represents the Virgin Mary and her cousin Elizabeth greeting each other on top of a Venetian bridge. They are celebrating Mary’s conception of Christ. The altarpiece would have originally been hung higher, so that the figures in the bottom half matched the viewer’s head height.

In the 1770s, altarpieces from the San Giacomo were sold to British collections with the help of the British ambassador for Venice, Sir James Wright. As a result, Veronese’s paintings became greatly sought after, and by the nineteenth century, there were no less than 80 paintings attributed to the artist in British private collections. The Visitation contributed to the flourishing of Venetian masterpieces in this country, which continue to delight and fascinate their audiences to this day.

Purchased 1953 (No. 53.5)

Further reading:

Humfrey, Peter, ‘Made in Venice (Veronese at San Giacomo, Murano)’, Apollo, 178/612, 2013, pp. 76-82.

Salomon, Xavier F., Vittori, Claudia, and Clemente, Maichol, Veronese in Murano: Two Venetian Renaissance Masterpieces Restored, New York, 2017.

The Green Gallery Research Project

This artwork was part of a research project into the Barber’s pre-1600 Italian paintings.