The classic painting The Wedding Feast at Cana by Paulo Veronese is powerful in its meaning and ability to present the work of one of the masters during the Italian Renaissance. The painting not only tells a story, but it also captures life as it was during sixteenth century Venice. The Wedding Feast at Cana is part of the Italian Renaissance collection at the Louvre in Paris, France where it has been displayed since seventeen seventy-eight. Before that, it had hung on in the Benedictine monastery San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice, Italy.
It has not only visually stimulated millions, but it has also been the inspiration for other great artist such as Delacroix. The Wedding Feast at Cana is about the story of the marriage at Cana in the book of John in the Bible. It was during this marriage feast that Jesus performed his first miracle and changed the water into wine. One of the most striking parts of the picture is the huge crowd of people dressed in brightly colored clothes. In the painting, the wedding is taking place an elaborate and open marble area. This area is basically divided into three areas.
The upper area is where the columns meet the roof tops and the sky. There are a scattering of people in this area and it gives the impression that those in this area are spectator of the marriage feast and not partakers. These people are symbolic of the sinners who watched the works of Jesus, yet did not accept his teachings because of their skepticism. The second and middle area is the area that is one story above the bottom area. In this spot there are more people than are at the top level. Most of them seem to be arguing or debating an issue.
This is symbolic of those who in the days of Jesus were almost persuaded to follow his ministry yet could not quite accept his teachings in the end and it is also symbolic of the philosophers during sixteenth century Venice who debated the validity of the Church in Rome. This particular section is where there is meat that has recently been slaughtered for those feasting at the wedding which represents Jesus as the sacrificial lamb. The lowest level is the one which takes place at tables arranged in a “u” shape on a tiled floor. This section is where everyone who seems to be a part of the wedding are arranged.
This region is where the food and drinks are served, the music is played, and the harmonious enjoyment or the marriage feast is taking place. The marriage is taking place in the time of Christ, yet the musical instruments, such as the lute, are from the time of Veronese. Even though Christ is not the actual groom, he is the symbolic groom; he is centered at the table with his mother, Mary, by his side, as if he is the honored guest. He looks out of the painting as if to invite all those who will listen or view him to join him. Those in this area are representative of those who have accepted his teachings and are part of the chosen few.
The whole scene of the marriage is symbolic of the fact that Christ is known as the groom and the Church is his bride and that they will one day be united. The Wedding Feast at Cana by Veronese was painted in fifteen sixty-three during the Italian Renaissance. This artistic period in Italy drew on religious stories as inspirations for the works of art produced during this time. The Roman Catholic Church was extremely powerful, and it was to any artist’s advantage to please the Church with his art. It was no accident that Veronese chose the Wedding Feast as his subject.
There was also a return to the Classical artistic style of ancient Greece and Rome. This is evident in The Wedding Feast at Cana through the style of dress and architecture. The subjects of the painting are dressed in the loosely draped fashion of the ancient Greek and Romans. The architecture is that of marble and displays the use of the Doric and Corinthian columns that were prevalent in the architecture of these ancient times. The composition of The Wedding Feast at Cana is not only vertical with the three levels, but it is horizontal as well.
While he is not in the exact center of the painting, Jesus is where the eye places the center. From his figure, one begins to look to the sides and then downward and upward. Veronese strategically placed the merriment of the wedding entertainment and meal around Christ. He positioned the bride and groom to the extreme left so that the viewer would know that even though it is their wedding, Christ central to the story. Veronese used a mixture of horizontal and vertical lines as well. The columns and their fluted ridges are vertical and they draw their purpose is to keep drawing the viewer’s eyes upward.
The cornices, balustrade, and the arrangement of people and tables are horizontal to also draw the viewer’s eye in both directions of the central figure of Christ. Veronese also uses the element of color to enhance The Wedding Feast at Can. The marbleized white and reddish brown of the columns lend strength to and permanence to the scene. The sky is almost an unnatural shade of bright blue. Perhaps he used the color in such a stark way as to remind the viewer of Christ’s connection with heaven and so the viewer would not forget that it was the ultimate goal for Christ to lead all who would follow him to this place.
He used everything from light pastel pinks and blues to deep jewel tones of gold, deep green, deep blue, and red, to earth tones of forest green, yellow, orange, and brown for the clothing of the people in attendance of the wedding. This could symbolize the inclusion of all people in the kingdom of Christ, the different personalities and talents of all people, or the fact that Christ is in control of everything from riches, the heavens, and the earth.
The medium of The Wedding Feast at Cana by Veronese is oil on canvas, yet through his use of perspective and lights and darks, he is able to create depth. An example is the size of the columns on the lower level are depicted as much larger than those of the upper level that it seems as if there is actually depth in the different areas. Movement is also created in the fact that each person in the painting seems as if he/she were frozen in the middle of an action.
This allows the viewer to visualize what would have happened just before the moment was captured and what will happen just after the moment that was captured. The element of movement is especially important to the painting because it gives it a sense of life. It is not as if these subjects posed for the picture, but they were caught in the middle of living life. Veronese created a masterpiece with The Wedding Feast at Cana during the Italian Renaissance which was an artistic movement that created many of the most famous works of art that the world has ever known.
The emotion depicted, the feeling of an era, and the style of Veronese is beautifully captured in one truly great work of art. ? Works Cited “The Wedding Feast at Cana. ” Thematic Trails: Italian Renaissance Painting the Louvre. 29, November 2008 http://www. louvre. fr/llv/activite/detail_parcours. jsp? CURRENT_LLV_PARCOURS%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673226925&CONTENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673226891&CURRENT_LLV_CHEMINEMENT%3C%3Ecnt_id=10134198673226891&FOLDER%3C%3Efolder_id=1408474395181115&bmLocale=en
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