Tuesday, 15 March 2011

The Last Supper with Parrots?

Imagine a Last Supper with parrots, buffoons, dogs, a nose bleed, drunkards and German soldiers. This would have certainly made the event more lively. Paolo Veronese (1528-1588) painted a huge canvas (17 x 42 feet) displaying just this.
Paolo Veronese - Last Supper / Feast in the House of Levi
Unfortunately the church were not too happy with this, and called Veronese in front of the Inquisition. The transcript for this still exists, and I can't help but chuckle at the thought of the Holy Office grilling Veronese on his painting. Although I am sure it can't have been much fun for him. Monty Python created a skit based on this very event.
The outcome for Veronese? He was ordered to improve and alter the painting within three months. Veronese did not do this, instead he changed the name of the painting to the Feast in the House of Levi. Veronese was a religious man, so was unlikely to have painted this to offend (interestingly Leonardo da Vinci who also painted an image of the Last Supper was apparently agnostic). Veronese's experience certainly raises questions about artistic license, and shows the power of the church at this time.

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