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Description - Lives of Veronese by Giorgio Vasari

Never was a painter more nobly joyous, never did an artist take a greater delight in life, seeing it all as a kind of breezy festival and feeling it through the medium of perpetual success … He was the happiest of painters - Henry James on Veronese, 1909. Collected here for the first time, these fascinating early biographies (two of which have never been translated before) describe and celebrate the astonishingly fertile art of Paolo Veronese. Most of what we know about Veronese comes from these three writings, and the Life by Carlo Ridolfi broke new ground in its scope and ambition – no one had written in such grand and poetic terms about any visual artist. Xavier F. Salomon, a leading scholar of the period, who specialises in Veronese, translated all three texts and puts them into the context of Veronese's career and reputation in his introduction. Paolo Cagliari, born in 1528 in Verona (hence his name Il Veronese), worked mainly in Venice, where he died in 1588. The exuberance and brilliance of his art led him into trouble with the Inquisition, and his reputation as a colourist has never faded. As Lawrence Gowing wrote: 'The French had no doubts, as the critic Théophile Gautier wrote in 1860, that Veronese was the greatest colorist who ever lived – greater than Titian, Rubens, or Rembrandt because he established the harmony of natural tones in place of the modeling in dark and light that remained the method of academic chiaroscuro. Delacroix wrote that Veronese made light without violent contrasts, “which we are always told is impossible”, and maintained the strength of hue in shadow. This innovation could not be better described. Veronese's bright outdoor harmonies enlightened and inspired the whole nineteenth century. He was the foundation of modern painting. But whether his style is in fact naturalistic, as the Impressionists thought, or a more subtle and beautiful imaginative invention must remain a question for each age to answer for itself'. 48 colour illustrations

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