Hidden treasures

The Last Supper by Veronese at the Gallerie dell'Accademia

Historical Curiosities

The Last Supper by Veronese at the Gallerie dell'Accademia

The twelve rooms of the Gallerie dell'Accademia host many works of art from the Veneto Region and the city of Venice made by renowned artists including Tintoretto, Tiziano, Canaletto, Giovanni Bellini and Veronese.

As you enter hall number ten, a huge canvas - 5.55 meters high and 12.80 meters wide - will capture your attention: it is the canvas painting by Paolo Veronese, 'Feast in the House of Levy', dating from 1573.

The painting was created as a representation of the Gospel episode of the Last Supper and was completed for the Basilica of Saints John and Paul in Venice. However, if we carefully examine the details of the work, we will notice the presence of dozens of bizarre and sometimes ironic ‘figures’: acrobats, buffoons, drunken people, dwarves and even a slave with a nosebleed (epistaxis)!

How could the Catholic Church accept such a blasphemous and ‘disorderly’ representation for one of the most sacred episodes in the life of Christ? In fact, the dreaded Inquisition criticized the work and summoned its author before the court.

At the end of the trial, Veronese found himself forced to transform the sacred theme of the Last Supper into a convivial scene characterized by a lavish and vivacious banquet. He also changed the title of the canvas from 'The Last Supper' to 'The Feast in the House of Levi' ... But who was Levi?

Levi was the tax collector who threw a dinner party to celebrate Christ's call. The ostentatious and sumptuous setting is therefore in line with the new name of the work: the scene is set inside a 16th century Palladian-style building where the Venice of the past transpires through the elegant architecture, the rich costumes of the attendees and the victuals.

The visitor who is observing the canvas has the impression of admiring a large stage where the actors, or the guests, seem to direct their gaze at the central point of the scene occupied by the luminous figure of Jesus Christ. Next to him, sitting around the table are the Apostles and a multitude of other characters of different social backgrounds who, for the first time in sacred painting, find themselves attending one of the most significant moments in the life of Jesus, The Last Supper.

Do not miss the chance to admire up close the details of this unruly piece of artwork! On our portal you can buy the admission ticket to visit the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice and the wonderful masterpieces housed inside.

By Insidecom Editorial Staff

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