Veronese, Perseus and Andromeda, c. 1580,
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Rennes
It is a refrain of art history: Titian, Tintoretto, and Veronese, the three Venetian geniuses of the second half of the 16th century, supposedly never stopped shooting one another down. One has to imagine their workshop like three big PR firms in fierce competition in an ultraliberal society. To be sure, in their struggle to obtain commissions they often pushed one another out of the way. They lowered their prices, in some cases working without pay. To win the chance to decorate the Scuola Grande di San Rocco, Tintoretto cheated by knowing about the commission plans in advance, thanks to some indiscretion. Titian, for his part, had his exquisite little Saint Nicholas installed in the midst of the magnificent church of San Sebastiano, completely decorated by Veronese, to remind his too talented disciple who was the master.Also, check out this nice selection of images published by Le Figaro.
So what is underscored by the exhibit at the Louvre that opens today? A common splendor and flourishing, the richness and smoothness of the medium, brushstrokes in the painting surface that, for the first time, make the paint stand out on its own, a revolutionary primacy of color, freedom of curving shapes, virtuosic perspective, feminine flesh and secular subjects exalted, and of course a sophistication of themes. All of it is captivating.