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Véronèse (Paolo Caliari)

Christ Crowned with Thorns


Véronèse (Paolo Caliari)
Verona 1528 – Venice 1588


Christ Crowned with Thorns


About 1584-1585


Oil on canvas


75.5 x 57.3 cm


Purchase, the Museum Campaigns 1988-1993 and 1998-2002 Funds, gift in memory of Dr Alicja Lipecka Czernick and her husband, Dr Stanislas Czernick, the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts' Volunteer Association Fund, and Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 2010.23


Western Art

Veronese was one of a triumvirate of competing yet mutually influencing, transcendently great artists who dominated painting in Venice in the second half of the sixteenth century, the other two being Titian and Tintoretto. Titian defined the comprehensive terms of the Venetian variant of the High Renaissance, with its rich colourism, grand and idealized forms emerging within a palpable atmosphere. Veronese, born a generation and a half later than the great master, appreciated the appeal to the tactile sumptuousness of rich surfaces, and the visual stimulation of the juxtaposition of colours. In his late works his previously resplendent colours became increasingly denser and darker and a new emotional resonance, even poignance enters, his work, as in this painting executed in the last years of his life.

In the 1580s, Veronese executed some of his most moving and personal compositions, often simplified to single figures, featuring a dark, introspective tonalism. In the period of the Counter-Reformation, immediately following the Council of Trent, a tense political climate existed in Venice, resulting from a series of serious defeats from and battles with the Ottoman Turks. Venice, already a city of profound religious faith and many public religious activities, became even more intensely pious. This piety was enhanced by a series of plagues, including a particularly virulent one in 1576. It is in this ambience that the Christ Crowned with Thorns was created.

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