(b. 1528, Verona, d. 1588, Venezia)

Holy Family with Sts Anthony Abbot, Catherine and the Infant John the Baptist

Oil on canvas, 313 x 190 cm
San Francesco della Vigna, Venice

This altarpiece is referred to as the Pala Giustinian, since it was commissioned by Antonio Giustinian, provveditore della fabbrica (building inspector), who would have been the painter's paymaster.

Clearly contrasting cool colours in the service of precise, dramatically constructed forms are the main characteristics of Veronese's first altar painting for a Venetian church. Infrared reflectography recently brought to light a surprising technical finding: originally, parts of the pictorial architecture in the background of the picture were differently arranged. In an early phase, the column behind Mary was roughly in the centre of the picture. As the painting proceeded, it was overpainted and moved right. Clearly not initially envisaged, therefore, was the awkward-looking pier fragment with its engaged half-column, whose relationship with the other architectural motifs produces inconsistencies of perspective.

When Agostino Carracci copied the large painting around 1582, one of the things that he corrected was the harsh arris at the top of the pier.