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The Virgin and Child with Angels Appearing to Saints Anthony Abbot and Paul, the Hermit

Paolo Veronese1562

Chrysler Museum of Art

Chrysler Museum of Art

In a burst of miraculous golden light, the Madonna and Child in Glory swoop down upon the desert where a pair of very old men are startled from their prayers and meditations. These two founders of monasticism are awestruck by the heavenly vision: Anthony Abbot lurches forward on his crutch, his rosary lifted in his hand, while Paul the Hermit clutches his heart, the heavy volume of scriptures still balanced on his lap. Veronese has depicted the spectacular scene with warmth and immediacy in a painting intended to be placed high above an elaborate altar. As the worshipper gazes up to the celestial Virgin, she looks down serenely upon the humble saints whose gnarled feet and unkempt beards remind us of their ascetic self-denial and life-long spiritual devotions. We are drawn visually through their aged earthly bodies toward a promise of splendid eternal life. Despite the discoloration of the monk's robes from shades of green to dark brown, Veronese's genius as a colorist in the Venetian tradition is still splendidly in evidence in the handling of the heavenly satin drapery. He offers the eye a joyful bouquet of silvery blue, lemon yellow, and emerald green. This alterpiece was one of three works by Veronese commissioned in 1562 by the Benedictine monks at San Benedetto Po, near Mantua. They were completed in only three months' time and installed in their respective chapels in the sumptuous church. They were seen there by Giorgio Vasari, the famous painter and biographer, who in 1568 described Veronese's alterpieces as the best paintings in the abbey church. Napoleon's troops confiscated the three pictures, along with countless other works of art, during the French occupation of northern Italy in the late 1790s. The Virgin and Child with Angels Appearing to Saints Anthony Abbot and Paul, the Hermit eventually surfaced in France, where it was purchased by Walter P. Chrysler, Jr., in 1954. The two other paintings appeared in England in the nineteenth century: one was unfortunately destroyed by fire, but The Consecration of Saint Nicholas was acquired by the National Gallery in London. The abbey church and cloisters still stand today, with reproductions of the paintings placed above the original altars.

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  • Title: The Virgin and Child with Angels Appearing to Saints Anthony Abbot and Paul, the Hermit
  • Creator: Paolo Veronese
  • Date Created: 1562
  • Location Created: Mantua, Italy
  • Provenance: (Original Commission) Chapel of Saint Anthony, Church of San Benedetto in Po, Mantua, Italy, 1562; Second chapel on the right, when facing the high altar; Removed from the church to the abbey at San Benedetto Po, Mantua, Italy, ca. 1792; Removed by occupying French troops and sold to Jean Frédéric Guillaume de Sahuguet d'Amarzit, comte d'Espagnac (1750 -1817) ca. 1798; Sold in France? to satisfy d'Espagnac's creditors, ca. 1819; Sold by Bonnefons de Lavialle, Paris, lot 59, to Vignot, ca. 1820; Private collection, France 1950; Jean Neger, Paris, France, 1954; Sold, Walter P. Chrysler, Jr.; The Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, Virginia, Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. in memory of Della Viola Forker Chrysler, 1971.
  • Physical Dimensions: 112 × 66 1/2 in. (284.5 × 168.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Gift of Walter P. Chrysler, Jr. in memory of Della Viola Forker Chrysler
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil on canvas

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