by Paolo VERONESE
The magnificent decorative style, developed in the Villa Barbaro at Maser, was taken even further in the 1560s, in a series of large paintings on the common theme of suppers at which Christ was present. Veronese used the stories from the Gospels as an excuse to stage sumptuous feasts in sixteenth-century dress inside grandiose and theatrical architectural perspectives, producing realistic representations of social life at the highest level, dominated by the magnificence of the surroundings and the refined elegance of the clothing worn by the guest. The Supper in Emmaus (Louvre, Paris), the Feast in the House of Simon, painted for the dining room of the Benedictines in San Nazaro e Celso in Verona, (now in the Galleria Sabauda, Turin), and the Marriage at Cana, executed for the refectory of the convent of San Giorgio Maggiore at Venice (now in the Louvre, Paris) belong to the series.
In the 1570s Veronese returned to the theme of the feasts, painting the Feast at the House of Simon for the monastery of St Sebastian (now in the Pinacoteca di Brera), the same subject for the refectory of the Servites (which the Venetian Republic donated to King Louis XIV of France in 1664 and now is at Versailles), the Feast in the House of Gregory the Great for the sanctuary of Monte Berico at Vicenza (1572), and finally the Feast in the House of Levi for the refectory of the Santi Giovanni e Paolo in Venice (now in the Gallerie dell'Accademia, Venice).
In each case it was the local context that determined the huge format and particular form of the pictures. All of them were once attached to the walls at the end of the monastery refectories where, supported by the use of symmetrical pictorial architectures, they created a loose painted extension of the real space.