Veronese @ National Gallery, London

Paolo Veronese, Martyrdom of Saint George, c.1565, Chiesa di San Giorgio in Brai
Paolo Veronese, Martyrdom of Saint George, c.1565, Chiesa di San Giorgio in Braida, Verona (© Photo Scala, Florence)

Emily Spicer reviews the exhibition Veronese: Magnificence in Renaissance Venice at the National Gallery, London, on view through June 15, 2014.

Spicer writes that "the importance of putting on a good show did not escape Veronese. The artist used 'spotlights' in his paintings with all the craft of a theatre director... Painted about 1565 and standing over four metres tall [The Martyrdom of Saint George's] journey to this exhibition is the first time it has left the church of San Giorgio since Napoleon took a fancy to it, spiriting it away to France in the late-18th century. In this shimmering masterpiece, the artist treats the characters in the scene like actors positioned on a stage. The protagonist’s pale chest is illuminated from above, his palms turned up in a gesture of submission; this is St George before his execution. A pale, hooded man points towards a statue of Apollo, but the saint dutifully turns skywards to the angelic figure of Faith, who, together with Hope and Charity, help make up the pastel-coloured heavenly chorus."