Paolo Veronese: Exploring Life and Art of the Italian Master

Paolo Veronese was one of the masters from Venetian High Renaissance artists, known for his unusually beautiful paintings. Learn about the artist’s life and famous works.

Paolo Veronese

Last night, I dropped the pasta shells in the shimmering water pot with some salt and olive oil. On the second stove at medium heat, I put the cauldron. I poured some olive oil into it frantically, which sounded like a thirsty person squeezing water out of a bottle. As it began to heat up and the fire complemented the utensil with the hot gases above, there go my finely chopped onions with lots of minced garlic. The onion romancing with the oil made them caramelise, with the intensity of their love, felt through the aroma in the surrounding. In the midst of being nourished with fire’s warmth and allowing them to love for a few more moments, tomato puree seeks to separate their existence with its bitterness and betrayal. It is their love, however, which allows them to turn the puree into a good form, and then some trust is added as salt and spice to make it more flavorful. They had fallen deeply and madly in love once again, so it was the right time for them to add pasta water and shells to the pot. Giggling, Romancing, loving, and nurturing in the caldron, they infused the flavours and turned them into beautiful Italian pasta. Dressing Time! Basil and Parmesan Cheese in.

Italian Pasta Servings
Italian Pasta Servings | Source: Megan Bucknall / Unsplash

You might be thinking whether we are talking about a recipe, but certainly no, I am not so expert in Italian food, but my consistent love for it evolves whenever I see a culture of it. As always, you might be thinking, Oh! Dramatic Me, but you know me now, so you can’t undo this! Let me tell you, the boring love story of onion and oil isn’t as important as the reading we’re doing today.

Today the culture here, starting from a dish, takes in the form of an artist, a famous one whose artworks are impeccable and would take you to make your mind to visit the Churches of Italy where he painted. We are here to talk about Paolo Veronese, one of the leading artists of the 16th century from the Italy Renaissance who gave more to mannerism over naturalism techniques. Let us go back to the pages of history through his life and then talk about his famous artworks.

About the Artist: Paolo Veronese.

Born in 1588 in Verona, Paolo Veronese was the son of Gabriele, the stone cutter and his wife, Caterina. In those days, the surname was derived from the profession of the father, so Veronese was called Paolo Spezapreda. He then changed his name to Paolo Caliari after his mother’s father, Antonio Caliari. His early painting signature included his name P. Caliari F. Further, to distinguish him from another painter Alessandro Veronese, in 1575, he wrote his name as Paolo Caliari.

Italian Painter Paolo Veronese Self Portrait
Self Portrait, Paolo Veronese | Source: Via Wikimedia Commons

We know little about his early life because his life records were unable to be discovered. He contributed little to our understanding of him after his last eight letters were discovered. Coming in his youth life, he was an apprentice of Antonio Badile, his later father-in-law in 1541. In 1544, he changed to Giovanni Francesco Caroto, a leading painter of the time. His training style included mannerism, but he developed his new style for a more radiant palette.

ArtistPaolo Caliari, also known as Paolo Veronese
Died19 April 1588
PeriodHigh Renaissance
MediumOil painting

In his late teens, he portrayed his art in various churches and 1551, he painted for the crucial Giustiniani family for their chapel in the church of San Francesco Della Vigna. He moved to Venice in 1553, once obtaining his first state commission ceilings in fresco, decorating the Hall of Council of Ten, whose new rooms were lost in the fire of 1547. His career was bright, allowing him to paint in the finest churches of the time.

Paolo Veronese Artwork Holy Family with Saints Catherine and Anthony Abbot at Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice
Holy Family with Saints Catherine and Anthony Abbot at Church of San Francesco della Vigna in Venice by Paolo Veronese | Source:

When we finally reach his paintings, it is time to veil some of the compulsive things about them before we see them individually. His art links itself with an idea of luxuriousness and splendour in Renaissance Venice. Mannerism, the technique he follows in his art, is about the elegance of the figures in the art. It also features unusual light effects, colourization and gestural postures. He used to bring a transitional rendering and fluid harmony with his tones among his artworks.

While you enter the gallery of his art, you will see the crowded compositions in a thearetical effect, which means there are too many figures, each religiously dressed. He painted numerous compositions, including historical, large-scale altarpieces, and devotional and mythological pictures in different formats.

Art Historian Carlo Ridolfi writes about Paolo Veronese,

“outlandish and majestic gods, grave characters, matrons full of graces and charm, kings richly adorned, the diversity of draperies, various military spoils, ornate architecture, joyous plants, beautiful animals and many of these curiosities.”

Another writer, Marco Boschini, described his work in 1660 saying,

“certainly never has been seen among painters such regal pomp and circumstance, such majestic actions, such weighty and decorous manner! He is the treasurer of the art and the colours. This is not painting, it is magic that casts a spell on people who see it.”

Learning more about Paolo Veronese paintings, they are so pure, and you will find an irresistible attraction with them. Let us go on them without wasting a single more second.

Briefly Analysing Some of the Famous Paolo Veronese Paintings.

1. Esther Crowned by Ahasuerus.

The painting by Paolo Veronese shows the crowning of Esther. After he arrived in Venice, he accepted this prestigious commission to make his composition on the San Sebastiano ceiling. The story of Esther heroically narrates itself. When the king of the Achaemenid Empire, Ahasuerus, was in search of a wife after his queen Vashti was deposed because of disobedience, Hadassah, a Jewish lady, later called Esther, fulfilled this role for her beauty. She protected the Jewish people when Haman plotted their killings. She foiled the plan by telling Haman’s eradication plans to Ahasuerus led Jewish to kill their enemies, and this way, she saved all of them. The painting reveals the biblical scenery of the above incident.

Esther Crowned by Ahasuerus Painting by artist Paolo Veronese
Esther Crowned by Ahasuerus Painting by Paolo Veronese | Source: Via Wikimedia Commons

The figures of the composition are well dressed in religious costumes with bright colours. The scenery depicts the throning of Esther as the next queen of King Ahasuerus. Her body side poses as he crowns her head. The expressions show high delicacy with the revelations of elegance and mannerism. It describes the Rennaissance technique where the figures were supposed to be floating. They were not made in the eye-to-eye demonstration, instead showing the foreshortening of the figure. The rich ornamentation of the king, vibrant colours and naturalism of the composition just melted my heart.

2. Muse With Lyre.

The painting crafts itself on the walls of Villa Barbaro. Veronese was commissioned by his first art patron Barbaro family to decorate their villa near Maser. This composition displays the Greek God Erato, who is the ninth Moses. She was an inspirational god of literature, Science and Art. After the Renaissance, she is mostly shown with a wreath of roses and myrtle with a lyre. The artwork has a pictorial language which is more than just an image of Erayo. It displays the unusual naturalism and realism of the figure.

Muse With Lyre Paolo Veronese Painting
Muse With Lyre by Paolo Veronese | Source: Via Wikimedia Commons

Paolo Veronese’s magnificent bright finishing makes her more appealing. It has the terraferma style with the antiquity of Venetian colours. The side look of her with cross feet and the draping of cloth over her body with a bare shoulder makes it more hypnotising.

3. The Wedding at Cana.

The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese displays an exquisite composition with around 130 figures of people on the wall. It represents the biblical story of the Marriage at Cana that says the conversion of water into wine miracle. The story goes like this. During a wedding, Christ was invited and when the wine was all consumed by the guests, Mary, his sister, notified him, and he asked servants to bring a few stone vessels filled with water, which he converted into wine with his touch. As a precursor to the Eucharist, his story refers to the servant sacrificing the “Lamb of God” in the upper tier just above Christ.

Using his meticulous imagination and definite talent, Paolo Veronese made this painting so that God and humanity interact harmoniously.

The Wedding At Cana Paolo Veronese Painting
The Wedding at Cana by Paolo Veronese | Source: Via Wikimedia Commons

The narrative composition showcases the mannerist style with the stylist and pictorial elements from the Venetian School of Philosophy. It is supposed to see from upwards to downwards.

It took him around 15 months to complete the artwork with his brother’s help. It consists of numerous postures with a pure form of expressionism and realistic art with the animals like lamb and parrot.

The lower part of the painting has 130 humans in different costumes and attires, whereas the upper portion of the artwork has a cloudy sky with tints of Graeco-Roman architecture.

4. Portrait of Daniele Barbaro.

Paolo Veronese has very few portraits in his artworks, so this one matters to us. If you can see the portrayal of Daniele Barbaro, he represents himself from an affluent aristocratic family. The clothes, the draping of the attire, his long greyish black beard and the black hat consists of the realism technique. A majestic and decorous pose embodies elegance and professionalism in the composition. In the background of the artwork, there lies the book, Vitruvius De Architectura, featuring the illustrations by Palladio. It indicates the sturdy link between the three men.

Portrait of Daniele Barbaro painting by Paolo Veronese
Portrait of Daniele Barbaro by Paolo Veronese | Source: Via Wikimedia Commons

Despite the dark background, he used light to enhance the interplay between textiles and light. His influence on glamorized portraits with psychological insight can be seen here. With the bright colour composition, he displayed a portrayal with a psychological turn that makes it more complex to understand.

5. The Family of Darius Before Alexander.

In this painting, Alexander the Great receives the family of Persia’s King Darius III after defeating him in battle. As Sisygambis kneels in the composition, she misidentifies Alexander and aide Hephaestion (probably because he wears the finery of the counsellor dress) as the victorious monarch.

A gesture of benevolence and nobility, Alexander ignores this potentially grave insult. In the artist’s interpretation of the scene, Hephaestion is subtly ambiguous, and the spectator could easily believe that he is Alexander. The victorious Alexander appears in the origins of classical history painting, dressed in heroic armour rather than the elegant Venetian attire of most of the figures.

The Family Of Darius Before Alexander by Paolo Veronese
The Family of Darius Before Alexander by Paolo Veronese | Source: Google Arts And Culture

Veronese constructed a lower horizon of human figures in the artwork with some architectural surroundings like in his previous works. He is a mastermind in portraying drama in its best realistic manner but with exaggeration. In each of his artworks, there lies a co-existence of animals and humans in harmony like here, its monkeys. Among Veronese’s works are the finest examples of 16th-century costumes with an expensive look.

6. Mars and Venus United by Love.

In Mars and Venus United by Love, Paolo Veronese tells us about the scenery from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (8 AD), where Venus, the God of Love seduces Mars, the God of War. With her beautiful smile and exquisite features, she tries to calm Mars because of his aggression. The two cupids serve as the bridge to the reunion. Venus confirms to calm Mars down by tying a ribbon of love around her leg. Veronese displayed the chronic transformation of love into charity- a theme by Emperor Rudolf, known to surround himself with alchemists. The breast milk of Venus that Mars is unable to resist is a symbol of maternity and prosperity here. The soothing kind of love that Venus had for Mars is displayed through the expressions and naturalism with mannerism.

Mars and Venus United by Love Painting by Paolo Veronese
Mars and Venus United by Love Painting by Paolo Veronese | Source: Google Arts And Culture

The composition tells us of the meeting of two lovers in a very peaceful scenery. Venus’s right hand rests on her breast from which milk flows, representing femininity, peace and food for humanity. She is naked, whereas Mars is in the costume of a fighter. The horse represents the element of the God of War that represents strength. However, its tilted head and calm eyes soften the complete composition.

7. Leda and the Swan.

The painting made by Paolo Caliari shows an erotic story of Leda and Zeus. Having been deeply roused by her beauty, Zeus transformed into a magnificent swan and impregnated her by laying two eggs in her before she went to sleep with her husband. The painting emphasises the cruelty of woman’s beauty in men’s world. With one hand on the sidelines and the other fingers curling on the swan’s body, she lies on the soft bed with the velvet-red curtain behind her. Wearing gold ornaments and a head bun, she is naked with her natural skin tone. The white swan with features is seen kissing Leda on her lips.

Leda and the Swan Paolo Veronese Painting
Leda and the Swan by Paolo Veronese | Source: Via Wikimedia Commons

8. Coronation of the Virgin.

The composition by Paolo Veronese tells us about the popular subject in Christian art. Christ, accompanied by God, crowns the queen of heaven, Mary. If I talk about the early versions of settings in Heaven, it is portrayed as an earthly court staffed with saints and angels, whereas the later one is seen as the sky and the figures seated on clouds.

Coronation of the Virgin painting by Paolo Veronese
Coronation of the by Paolo Veronese | Source: Via Wikimedia Commons

The ceiling paintings of the sacristy of San Sebastiano feature a very unusual iconography compared to the old depictions. In this image, Mary is crowned by Christ, while God the Father touches his son’s shoulder. An angel holding a book in one of the corner tondos records the completion date of the ceiling painting. A later portrayal of heaven contains two newborn kids floating in the sky amidst clouds. The bright colours with outstanding costumes are as usual speciality here. A flying white bird symbolises the peace and forgiveness that Christ taught us throughout his life.


The Italian Renaissance artist who lived greater than even Titian and the Baroque master Rubens, Paolo Veronese maintained a numerous range of natural colour tones with his explicitly outstanding Mannerism style in each of his artworks. Throughout his life, he painted on the walls of Churches that I really want to explore someday. Writing for such an artist who maintained light in this work at all times without creating a general effect of the shadow is inspiring and prideful. I really loved the painting Wedding at Cana of him most. Do you think I missed any artwork that is your favourite?

Frequently Asked Questions.

What was Paolo Veronese known for?

Paolo Veronese enjoyed a successful career allowing him to commission fresco decorations on small and crucial buildings (mostly churches). The Italian artist is known for his contribution to Venetian Renaissance through his art that depicted Mannerism, unusual light effects, colourization and gestural postures.

When did Paolo Veronese die?

Paolo Veronese, also known by Paolo Spezapreda and Paolo Caliari, died of pneumonia in 1588 and was buried in his favourite and most contributed Church of San Sebastiano.

Who was Paolo Veronese’s wife?

Paolo married Elena Badile, the daughter of his first master Antonio Badile, in 1565. The two later became parents of one daughter and four sons.

What was Paolo Veronese’s first painting?

It is unknown what painting Paolo Veronese drew at first. However, one may distinguish his early artworks through his signature P. Caliari F.

How did Paolo Veronese impact the Renaissance?

Paolo Veronese is one of the crucial artists of the 16th century from the Venetian High Renaissance. He is known for popularizing mythological and historical beliefs through naturalistic compositions with a transitional rendering.

Where is Veronese buried?

Church of San Sebastiano, Venice, Italy.

Who inspired Paolo Veronese?

One of the early influences on Paolo Veronese was his father, Gabriele, who was a stone cutter. He was also among the first ones to notice the talent of Veronese when he used to go for stone cutting with him and pushed him to pursue arts instead.

What style is Veronese?

Paolo Veronese was a High Renaissance artist who used Mannerism, naturalism and transitional renderings in his art that portrayed mythological and historical stories in a theatric form.

How long did it take to paint The Wedding at Cana?

The Wedding at Cana took 15 months to be painted and has 130 human characters wearing religious costumes.


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