NEW ORLEANS – Beginning April 19, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) will present Veronese in Murano, a focused exhibition featuring two Renaissance masterpieces by the celebrated artist Paolo Veronese (1528–1588). NOMA is the second and final venue for the paintings, titled St. Jerome in the Wilderness and St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter, which will be on view through September 3, 2018.
The exhibition was organized by The Frick Collection in New York City in honor of the full restoration of the works by Venetian Heritage, and with the generous support of BVLGARI. Though known to scholars, the paintings’ remote location in a church in Murano, an island in the lagoon of Venice known today for its glassmaking studios and shops, made them difficult to access and study. Veronese in Murano marks the first time the restored masterworks have been exhibited outside Italy since their creation 450 years ago.
“The Veronese masterworks complement NOMA’s strength in Northern Italian art, particularly works from 16th, 17th and 18th century Venice,” said Susan Taylor, NOMA’s Montine McDaniel Freeman Director. “We are pleased to be able to present these magnificent paintings to the people of the city of New Orleans.”
In 1566, the Venetian priest Francesco degli Arbori commissioned St. Jerome in the Wilderness and St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter for a small chapel the priest had built just outside the church and convent of Santa Maria degli Angeli. St. Jerome in the Wilderness was placed over the main chapel altar, and facing it over the entry door was St. Agatha Visited by St. Peter in Prison. For his chapel, the priest chose Saint Jerome as a model because the saint had translated the Bible into Latin, and Saint Agatha for her exemplary piety as an early Christian martyr. The dynamic movement of the figures, bold modeling, and open and scintillating brushwork combined with high-keyed color create a dramatic effect, representing Veronese at the height of his abilities.
To protect the two canvases from the humidity of the chapel and from the risk of theft, the nuns of Santa Maria degli Angeli moved them inside the main church in 1667. By the early 19th century, the two paintings had been transported to another church in Murano, San Pietro Martire. St. Jerome in the Wilderness has been exhibited outside the church only once—in 1939— while St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter has not left the church since being installed in the early 19th century.
“Because these works had never left the small island of Murano until their recent renovation, there is certainly mystery surrounding them,” said Vanessa Schmid, NOMA’s Senior Research Curator for European Art. “We are delighted to have the opportunity to showcase Veronese’s vibrant style and theatricality.”
Visit the museum online at www.noma.org.
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