The Martyrdom of Saint George, about 1565, from the church of San Giorgio, Braida, Verona
Salomon: This is the greatest loan to the exhibition. This is a picture that was made for the high altar of this church. It’s been in its original location since it was painted in about 1565, and it only left once, when it went to Paris with Napoleon and obviously to the Louvre. So it was there during the Napoleonic period, and then it was returned after Waterloo. This is the second time in its life that it’s leaving Verona. I personally think, and I know Nick feels the same, that it is Veronese’s absolute masterpiece: it combines every single thing that makes him a great artist.
Penny: What for me will be most amazing is the opportunity to see this picture as it was seen in the artist’s studio, with the other great paintings he was doing at the same time, because to an amazing degree Veronese’s paintings influence each other. The whole of this picture is constructed around a great open V—you get it with the diagonal of the flag at the left, but also with the orthogonals of the architecture, and then there’s this great build up, so that quite often the most important face in the picture is one of the lowest faces in the picture. That, which is crucial to the success of this painting, is something that you can see him doing as early as The Consecration of St Nicholas , one of the National Gallery’s pictures.