Veronese’s ‘Allegories of Love’

Veronese_-_Allegory_of_love_ScornT.J. Clark at The London Review of Books:

Over the past half-century or so, when writers have turned their attention to the four canvases by Veronese in the National Gallery called The Allegories of Love, they have spent their time trying to unpack the pictures’ iconography and said almost nothing about their visual character. This seems nearly as odd to me as it would have done to Ruskin, since the four pictures’ iconography is banal and their visual character unique and demanding. Iconographically speaking, the paintings tell a familiar late Petrarchan story of the pains and ecstasies of desire. Matrimony is eventually called on, in the stateliest of the four, to quieten things down, but most of the pictorial action in the three leading up to it has to do with Love’s double-dealing. The mysterious letter that goes from hand to hand in the painting called Infidelity is usually taken to be written by the woman in the middle to the man towards the left – the ‘soft musing poet’, as Edgar Wind imagined him, sweating in a pink silk number, ‘with some of the obesity of a coloratura tenor’. The little winged Eros stands at the clavichord nearby, ready to play continuo to his young master’s next outpourings. The poet looks to the sky for inspiration.

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