Andrew Butterfield considers Paolo Veronese's The Family of Darius before Alexander (1565–1567) on view in the exhibition Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery, London, on view through June 15, 2014.
Butterfield writes: "In painting, more than any other artist, Veronese knew how to glorify his patrons’ wealth, status, and erudition. The confident hedonism of the artist and his patrons may be one reason that in the modern era, Veronese has often been regarded as a gifted but superficial painter, more interested in depicting grand spaces, tumultuous crowds, and sumptuous surfaces than in capturing the heart of the historical scenes he illustrates. Thus, Roger Fry sniffed that Veronese 'doesn’t care a damn about anything but his opportunities,' and John Pope-Hennessy chided that 'analysis was alien to the cast of Veronese’s mind.' ... Yet The Family of Darius before Alexander reveals the seriousness of purpose with which Veronese worked. As few other painters of the Renaissance, he sought to make images that drew on the resources of all the arts, not just painting... Above all, [the painting] displays Veronese’s absolute command of paint and brush.”