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Supper at Emmaus

© 2004 RMN / Gérard Blot

Paintings
Italian painting

Author(s):
Aline François

Beyond traditional iconography

After his resurrection, Christ appears several times to his disciples. Here we have a cameo glimpse to the left into the scene of Christ meeting the pilgrims on the road to Emmaus; the episode continues in the foreground of the composition, where during the meal Jesus lifts his eyes to the sky at the moment of blessing the bread. This divine gesture leads to his being recognized by two astonished apostles.
Veronese doesn't limit himself to traditional iconography. He situates the miracle in a palace instead of an inn, before a door with a triangular pediment flanked by fluted columns. Above all, he introduces into the middle of this religious scene a family whose members show little interest in the event. The contrast is all the more marked by the mixing of antique dress with the rich Venetian costumes in the fashion of the period.

Religious scene and group portrait

The abundance of anecdotal scenes makes the reading of the work somewhat difficult. For example, the graceful charm of the young blond girls playing with a dog in the foreground nearly detracts from the main subject. These children occupy a strategic axis, since their placement at the level of the viewer reveals the artist's deliberate intention to create a veritable mise-en-scène, transforming the sacred site into a theatrical space. In this work from his youth, Veronese is still trying to master his style. He mixes genres, historical painting, and group portrait, while affirming his taste for architecture set against a blue sky. This painting, whose patron is unknown, is the artist's first large religious work and a precursor to the scenic effects of The Wedding Feast at Cana.

Technical description

  • Paolo CALIARI, known as VERONESE (Verona, 1528 – Venice, 1588)

    Supper at Emmaus

    c. 1559

  • Oil on canvas

    H. 2.41 m; W. 4.15 m

  • INV. 146

  • Paintings

    Denon wing
    1st floor
    Mona Lisa room
    Room 6

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