Paolo Veronese (1528 – 1588) was an Italian Renaissance painter; one of the great masters of the Venetian school. Originally named Paolo Caliari, he was called Veronese from his native city of Verona.
He learned painting in Verona from Antonio Badile, a capable exponent of the conservative local tradition. That tradition remained fundamental to Veronese’s style throughout his career, even after he moved to Venice in 1553.
The painters of Verona between about 1510 and 1540 favored firm, regular volumes, strong colors that function largely in terms of contrasts, and conventionalized figures.
Veronese combined these elements of the local High Renaissance style with Mannerist elements, including complex compositional schemes that often employ a “worm’s-eye view” perspective and Michelangelesque figures in powerful foreshortened or contorted poses.
The resulting amalgam was handled with increasing mastery in the Temptation of St. Anthony, done for the Cathedral of Mantua in 1552 (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Caen, France), and ceiling paintings (1553-54) for the Palazzo Ducale, Venice.
The first phase of Veronese’s artistic maturity, about 1555-65, is well represented by his many canvases for the Church of San Sebastiano in Venice. Their high-keyed interweavings of brilliant, luminous hues are harmonies of contrast in the tradition of Verona rather than Venetian harmonies of tone.
The striking compositions often involve multileveled settings and dramatically steep perspectives, especially effective in the ceiling paintings. From this period comes Veronese’s fresco decoration (circa 1561) of the Villa Barbaro at Maser, the one such cycle by him to survive.
Here he extended the actual architecture of the villa (1555-59) built by Andrea Palladio with painted illusory architecture and populated these illusions with both mythological personages and fictional equivalents of the villa’s real inhabitants.