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

St Anthony Preaching to the Fish

c. 1580
Oil on canvas, 104 x 150 cm
Galleria Borghese, Rome

Connected with Veronese's late output, the work has several times been ascribed to the artist's workshop on the grounds of the greater simplicity of the composition, wholly dominated by brownish tones. In fact the artist has taken an original approach to the composition with the sweeping seascape that characterizes the entire scenes; the gulf on the left is balanced on the right by the figures of the saint and the bystanders, arranged on parallel planes and along a diagonal that indicates the depth of the space in which they move. The Franciscan saint, holding the traditional white lily, is represented standing on a tongue of land, preaching and pointing at the sea, where we can see the fish that have risen to the surface to hear his words. Anthony towers over the others; the pose, expressing the passion of his oratory, recalls that of many of Veronese's figures. His gesture, which serves to articulate the downward slope of the scene toward the edge, is echoed by the figures seen from the back, both the one in the middle, in a Manneristic attitude, and that of the Oriental in the foreground. The figures wearing turbans - as was customary in the art of Venice - render the sacred content of the representation "ecumenical."