Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto, Paolo Veronese

Description of the picture:

Allegory of the Battle of Lepanto – Paolo Veronese. Around 1573. Oil on canvas. 170×137
A brilliant representative of the Venetian school of painting in the Renaissance, whose art ended her “golden age” on the highest note, Paolo Cagliari (1528-1588), referred to as Veronese (in other words, “Verona”), as a painter was formed in his own hometown. His father was a bricklayer and is believed to have introduced the offspring to the art of modeling as a child. But nevertheless, the first true teachers were the recognizable designer Michele Sanmichele and the painter Antonio Badile (later Veronese would marry his daughter). The young man found his artistic language already in Venice, where in 1553 he was invited to paint a ceiling in the Council Hall 10 in the Doge’s Palace. Soon, the creator was awarded a gold medal from the procurators of the Cathedral of San Marco for three large round panels in the Library of Marchiana. In them, the master used sharp angles, a dizzying arrangement of space, managed to convey the image beautifully, almost materially. The name Veronese became famous, it was mentioned next to the name of Titian, with whom he became close, and Tintoretto. He designed palaces, temples and villas, painted portraits.

The largest naval battle of the 16th century, the battle of Lepanto, took place on October 7, 1571 and ended with the brilliant victory of the combined fleet of the Holy League, which included Venice, Spain, the Papal State and many other European countries, over the military forces of the Ottoman Empire. The defeat for a long time pushed back the Turks’ claims for world domination and dispelled the myth of their invincibility. But for Christian Europe, this was first a victory over the Muslim East, a cross over the crescent. And for Venice, suffering for many centuries from constant conflicts with the Muslim countries of the Mediterranean, the battle was of great importance. Therefore, the appearance in Venetian painting since then of numerous paintings on this subject is not surprising. The victory was portrayed by artists as an independent historical picture, and was seen as an allegory, and served as a backdrop for portraits, and sometimes was present on canvases indirectly.

For the church of San Pietro Martire on the island of Murano near Venice, the picturesque allegory of the sea battle was created by the great Paolo Veronese. The artist is extremely detailed regarding fleets. To the fore, he lets in a little water, filling the lower belt to the horizon with the image of ships seen “from a bird’s eye view.” The victory of Christian forces is graphically predetermined not only by the heavenly intercession of the most powerful, upper register of composition, which is assigned to the “close-up” of the scene with the Madonna and the Saints, and by the numerical superiority of the flags and banners of the army on the palisade of the masts over the panels with the crescent. Despite the chamber size, the work gives the impression of a monumental work and is one of the most famous images of the legendary battle."

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