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

Honour

1556-57
Oil on canvas, diameter 230 cm
Biblioteca Nazionale Marciana, Venice

This tondo belongs to a series of 21 such circular pictures adorning the ceiling of the great room of the Libreria Vecchia.

Even Vasari, who interpreted the ruler on the throne as the personification of Honour, got no further in 1568 than a mere description of this enigmatic scene. The rulers throne is decorated on each side by small, carved figures. The one on his left holds a sceptre, the tip of which forms an eye. Various figures present themselves in front of the throne, including a woman with a child (Caritas?), a kneeling figure bearing an animal sacrifice and a bearded old man with a crown woven of laurel boughs. A comparison of the tondi in the Biblioteca Marciana shows that Veronese supplied works of very differing approaches and quality. The harmoniously grouped figures in Music translate the dramatic pictorial resources of the ceiling paintings of San Sebastiano into a calm, classic style. In contrast, the two figures with their backs turned to us in Honour resound with Mannerist echoes. Veronese here applies Tintoretto's principle of divergence to the arrangement of moving figures.