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Veronese is Virtual at National

The virtual reality can put in connection two different areas of the world. A work belonging to a place can virtually return to its original location allowing further visits and explorations. London and San Benedetto Po come together under the banner of art for further real visions. The work by Paolo Caliari known as Veronese no longer present in Italy joins along a fil rouge with London and Great Britain.
A virtual show, very contemporary, let the visitors to experience Veronese’s painting “The Consecration of Saint Nicholas” as it would have been seen in its original Italian church setting in 1562, by using virtual reality headsets.
In twenty minutes it’s possible to display a future relationship currently impossible to achieve.
The Veronese’s artwork in London ‘ll be in the church of San Benedetto al Po, near Mantua, watching the beautiful frescoes and architecture that once surrounded it.
Virtual Veronese is curated by dr Rebecca Gill, Ahmanson curator in “Art and Religion” at the National Gallery, London.
The digital experience is also accompanied, until the closing scheduled on 3 April 2022, by a recording of Gregorian chant, performed by Veneti Cantores for a real full immersion even if far form kilometres/miles.

Paolo Caliari known as Veronese (Verona 1528 – Venice 1588)
The Consecration of Saint Nicholas, 1562
Oil on canvas cm 286.5 x 175.3

About the artwork by The National Gallery:
Saint Nicholas lived in the fourth century and was a bishop of Myra, on the southern coast of modern Turkey. His relics were taken from Myra to Bari in Italy in 1087 and remain there today, which is why he is known as Saint Nicholas of Bari. He is the model of our ‘Santa Claus’ because of a legend that he secretly made a gift of dowries to three impoverished young women.
Veronese’s painting shows Nicholas’s consecration as bishop, as told in the Golden Legend. On the eve of the election of a new bishop at Myra, a voice revealed that a pious youth called Nicholas had been divinely chosen and would be the first to appear at the cathedral door in the morning.
Veronese depicts the entrance of the cathedral, where the senior bishop consecrates Nicholas, who kneels wearing a robe of emerald green, flanked by two older priests in white surplices. An angel descends with a bishop’s mitre (hat) and crosier (staff), proving that Nicholas has been chosen by God. The turbans worn by two of the witnesses show the story is taking place in Asia Minor. The consecration of Saint Nicholas is included in cycles of paintings of his life, but this is one of only two other independent images of the subject produced before the end of the sixteenth century. It seems to have been chosen to illustrate the importance of the call to the priesthood, and of God’s authority vested in a bishop.
Saint Nicholas kneels at the lowest point of the deep ‘V’ shape formed by the figures. The brilliant green of his robe is included elsewhere, creating a pattern of colour which, with the repeated rich pink, blue and white, draws our eye around the composition. Tiny dots and brushstrokes of white and yellow suggest the striped gold fabric covering the shoulders of the senior bishop. Streaks of white and grey define the folds and form of the foremost priest’s brightly lit white robe. Veronese paints just enough detail and then allows our eyes to do the rest.
Giorgio Vasari, the sixteenth-century artists‘ biographer, highly praised this painting in his Lives of the Artists. It was painted for the abbey church of S. Benedetto Po, just south of Mantua, following its reconstruction under the direction of Giulio Romano. Veronese was commissioned on 27 December 1561 to paint three altarpieces with subjects from the lives of Saint Nicholas, Saint Anthony Abbot and Saint Jerome. A transcription of a lost document recording the commission says they were to be painted in the best available colours and specifies the payment the artist was to receive.
Veronese received final payment for the altarpieces on 30 March 1562, so he either started before the commission was formally recorded or he worked at incredible speed, the three paintings only taking him three months. The original architectural frames, which may have been designed by Giulio Romano, are lost.
The altarpiece of Saint Nicholas was taken from the abbey church and sold on the orders of Napoleon Bonaparte, when the French general took Mantua in 1797.
It was purchased in 1811 by the governors of the “British Institution for Promoting the Fine Arts in the United Kingdom”. It was the first old master painting to be acquired by them, and they intended it to adorn a “future National Gallery”.

Virtual Veronese
7 March – 3 April 2022
The National Gallery. Room F
Ticketing details to be announced in January.
Admission free, ticketed.
This experience will be free to enter and will be available to visitors who have booked Gallery Entry tickets as well as tickets to other Gallery exhibitions.
This experience is for visitors aged 13 years or over.

by Alain Chivilò