Feast in the House of Levi

(1573; Venice, Galleria dell' Accademia)
   The Feast in the House of Levi was painted by Paolo Veronese for the Dominican Monastery of Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice. The real subject of the painting is the Last Supper. No sooner had Veronese completed it than he was summoned in front of the tribunal of the Inquisition and accused of rendering the solemn moment when Christ establishes the Eucharist as a sacrament as an indecorous scene filled with buffoons, dwarfs, drunken figures, and animals. To circumvent the harsh penalties levied by the tribunal on those accused of committing heresy, Veronese simply changed the title of the painting to the Feast in the House of Levi, a less solemn episode in Christ's life. The work relates compositionally to his Marriage at Cana (1563) in the Monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice. In both, the scene is made to look like a contemporary Venetian banquet lacking reverence. The emphasis on sumptuous fabrics, contemporaneous characters, and the Palladian architectural backdrop cast this work as decidedly Venetian.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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