Venetian, 1528 - 1588
The Martyrdom and Last Communion of Saint Lucy, c. 1582
oil on canvas
overall: 139.7 x 173.4 cm (55 x 68 1/4 in.) framed: 189.2 x 222.6 x 7.5 cm (74 1/2 x 87 5/8 x 2 15/16 in.)
Gift of The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation and Ailsa Mellon Bruce Fund
Not on View
Object 5 of 7
For this work, painted for the Church of Santa Croce in Belluno, Veronese combined the martyrdom of Saint Lucy with other events from her life. With an air of quiet resignation, Lucy gazes tearfully at the offered host as the executioner plunges a dagger into her chest. The flames behind her allude to an earlier attempt to kill her by burning. The oxen in the background refer to the team that failed to drag the chaste Lucy to the brothel to which she had been condemned for her Christian faith. The placement of the setting in sixteenth-century Venice rather than in Lucy's own third-century Syracuse in Sicily, and the emphasis on the sacrament of the Eucharist underscore the Counter Reformation spirit of the age.
In this outstanding example of Veronese's late style, the large figures are set close to the picture plane. Rapid, expressive brushstrokes create flickering effects of light and shadow. In contrast to the bright, decorative colors of his earlier works, Veronese darkened his palette with deeper and more muted tones. He heightened the scene's emotional impact by including at left the partial figure of an old woman -- perhaps Lucy's mother Eutychia -- who draws the viewer into the picture.
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