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

Feast in the House of Simon (detail)

Oil on canvas
Galleria Sabauda, Turin

In contrast with the usual iconography, this banquet scene, originally painted for the dining room of the Benedictines in San Nazaro e Celso in Verona, is set not at the house of Simon but at the house of Lazarus and his sisters Martha and Mary (St. John 12, 1—11). The anointing of Jesus's feet by Mary, and Judas Iscariot's protest at the waste of the ointment form the dramatic poles between which Veronese's narrative unfolds. It is a work of hitherto unparalleled richness of detail and density. The great painting is the first in a series of banquet scenes that the painter did in the early 1570s for various monasteries in Venice and Vicenza. Veronese's biographer Carlo Ridolfi, who had copied the painting in 1629 as a study exercise, was commissioned to make another copy of it in 1650, when the Benedictines sold it to Giovanni Filippo Spinola from Genoa.