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

The Marriage at Cana (detail)

1563
Oil on canvas
Musée du Louvre, Paris

From the 16th century, the refectory of the Benedictine convent of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, with its Marriage at Cana, was considered one of the principal sights of the city. If we are to believe the monastic chronicle written in 1619 by Don Fortunato Oimo, kings and princes had clamored for copies of the picture. Certainly, it is the festive mood of the picture, set in a world very familiar to contemporary viewers, that must have prompted demands of this kind. On the left of the richly laden table, the groom and bride of the biblical wedding open the gently undulating procession of beautifully portrait-like heads, whose individual features constantly captured the imagination of viewers in the 18th century, and even occasionally induced romantic visitors to the refectory to see a portrait of the painters own beloved in the bride.