Madonna col Bambino e i santi Giuseppe, Giustina, Francesco, Giovanni Battista fanciullo e Girolamo

Madonna and Child with Saints Joseph, Justina, Francis, the Infant John the Baptist, and Jerome (The San Zaccaria Altarpiece)

Paolo Caliari detto Paolo Veronese

Author
Paolo Caliari detto Paolo Veronese
Verona, 1528 - Venezia, 1588
Title
Madonna and Child with Saints Joseph, Justina, Francis, the Infant John the Baptist, and Jerome (The San Zaccaria Altarpiece)
Catalogue
37
Date
ca. 1562
Support
Canvas, 338 x 187 cm
Provenance
Venice, church of San Zaccaria (sacristy); Paris, Musée Napoleon (1797–1815); held by the museum since 1815
Hall
Hall X

This altarpiece was executed for the refurbishing of the Bonaldo family chapel in the sacristy of the church of San Zaccaria. In January 1562, Francesco Bonaldo, a silk and wool merchant, donated 200 scudi for the redecoration of the chapel in which his brothers Girolamo and Giovanni had just been buried. Hence the saints at the feet of the Madonna and Child and Saint Joseph within a mosaicked apse – in the centre with his back to the viewer is the infant Saint John (Giovanni in Italian), to the right Saint Jerome (Girolamo in Italian) in his cardinal’s attire, and to the left Saint Francis (Francesco in Italian). The altarpiece was probably executed at around the time of the 1562 donation, considering the existence of a sketch of the painting bearing the year 1564 on the back. The composition of the painting, albeit asymmetrical, is harmonious and balanced, inspired by the fifteenth–sixteenth-century Venetian tradition of large altarpieces, from Giovanni Bellini to Titian. Great attention has been lavished on the rendering of the fabrics and cloths. The artist carefully studied the light and the piece’s relationship with its original surroundings in terms of the direction of natural light coming in from the sacristy windows, which, now that the work is on display in the museum, is difficult to reproduce.