Overview

While exposing her breast to the thrust of the dagger that will kill her, Saint Lucy turns her head to accept communion from a priest. This unconventional addition of the sacrament to the scene of Lucy's martyrdom is a reminder of the Counter-Reformation climate that shadowed Veronese's career. Twice, the artist had defended himself against allegations of impropriety in his treatment of religious subjects.

Sketchily rendered in the background is a team of oxen; these are the beasts who had failed to drag the chaste Lucy -- made miraculously immobile -- to the brothel where she had been condemned for her Christian faith. A glimpse of fire behind Lucy alludes to another failed attempt to martyr this third-century saint.

Veronese's own Venice, and not Lucy's ancient Syracuse, is made the backdrop to this scene. A brilliant decorator, Veronese was celebrated for his sumptuous histories and mythologies which he translated into opulent present-day surroundings and dress. If the artist was best known for the sparkling blond harmonies of his mature work, the Martyrdom of Saint Lucy is a masterpiece of his late style and reveals a different aspect of his temperament. Here, cast in evening light, the colors have deepened and acquired a muted glow.

Provenance

Conte Teodoro Lechi, Brescia, Italy, by 1814 (no. 49 in 1814 inventory). Anonymous collection or dealer, Venice; sold 1827 to James Irvine, London and Rome; by whom sold 1827 to Sir William Forbes, 7th Bt. [d.1848], Fettercairn, Grampian, Scotland; (Forbes sale, London 2 June 1842, no. 30, not sold); by inheritance to Sir John Stuart Forbes, 8th Bt.[d. 1866], Pitsligo, Grampian and Fettercairn, Grampian, Scotland; by inheritance to his daughter Harriet Williamina Forbes Trefusis, Baroness Clinton [d.1869], Heanton Satchville, Dorset, England and Fettercairn, Grampian, Scotland; by inheritance [either directly from his mother or through his father, 20th Baron Clinton, who died 1904] to Charles John Robert Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis, 21st Baron Clinton, Heanton Satchville, Dorset, England and Fettercairn, Grampian, Scotland; by inheritance to his daughter Fenella Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis [Mrs. John Herbert Bowes-Lyon, Fettercairn, Grampian, Scotland; by gift to her daughter Diana Cinderella Bowes-Lyon [Mrs. Peter Somervell]; (Somervell sale, Christie's, London, 25 June 1971, no. 23); purchased by Eisenbeiss. Anonymous collection, Germany; (sale, Christie's, London, 10 April 1981, no. 78); (Matthiesen Fine Art, Ltd., London); sold 1984 to the National Gallery of Art).

Exhibition History
1988
The Art of Paolo Veronese, 1528-1588, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C., 1988-1989, no. 97, repro.
2004
The Age of Titian: Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections, Royal Scottish Academy Building, Edinburgh, 2004, no. 71, repro.
2014
Paolo Veronese. L'illusione della realtà, Palazzo della Gran Guardia, Verona, 2014, no. 5.18, repro.
Bibliography
1814
Indice e Descrizione dei Quadri del Sig. Generale Conte Teodoro Lechi di Brescia esistenti nella sua Casa in Milano. Milan, 1814: no. 49.
1816
Doglioni, Lucio. Notizie istoriche e geografiche della città di Belluno e sua provincia: Con dissertazioni due dell'antico stato, e intorno al sito di Belluno (1780). Rev. ed. Belluno, 1816: 36.
1888
Caliari, Pietro. Paolo Veronese, sua vita e sue opere: Studi storico-estetici. Rome, 1888: 281.
1914
Ridolfi, Carlo. Le maraviglie dell’arte, overo Le vite de gl'illustri pittori veneti, e dello Stato (Venice, 1648). Edited by Detlev von Hadeln. 2 vols. Berlin, 1914-1924: 1(1914):317.
1959
Watson, Francis J. B. “Venetian Art and Britian: A Partial Survey of the Royal Academy’s Winter Exhibition.” Arte Veneta 13-14 (1959-60): 267.
1960
Brooke, Humphrey, ed. Italian Art and Britain. Exh. cat. Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1960: 38-39.
1960
Vertova, Luisa. “Some Late Works by Veronese.” The Burlington Magazine 102 (1960): 68.
1961
Pallucchini, Rodolfo, “La pittura veneta alla mostra Italian Art and Britain: Appunti e proposte.” In Eberhard Hanfstaengl zum 75. Geburtstag. Edited by Eberhard Ruhmer. Munich, 1961: 75.
1965
Ballarin, Alessandro. “Osservazioni sui dipinti veneziani del Cinquecento nella Galleria del Castello di Praga.” Arte Veneta 19 (1965): 79-80.
1968
Lechi, Fausto. I quadri delle collezioni Lechi in Brescia. Florence, 1968: 184 no. 107.
1968
Marini, Remigio. Tutta la pittura di Paolo Veronese. Milan, 1968: 109 no. 122.
1976
Pignatti, Terisio. Veronese. 2 vols. Venice, 1976: 1:95-96, 155 no. 279.
1980
Cocke, Richard. Veronese. London, 1980: 17, 101.
1982
Brigstocke, Hugh, ed. William Buchanan and the 19th Century Art Trade: 100 Letters to his Agents in London and Italy. London, 1982: 29-30.
1984
Pallucchini, Rodolfo. Veronese. Milan, 1984: 185.
1985
European Paintings: An Illustrated Catalogue. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1985: 423, repro.
1988
Bettagno, Alessandro, ed. Paolo Veronese: Disegni e dipinti. Exh. cat. San Giorgio Maggiore, Venice, 1988: 104-105.
1988
Brown, Beverly Louise. “Paolo Veronese’s The Martyrdom and Last Communion of Saint Lucy.” Venezia Arti 2 (1988): 61-68.
1988
Cocke, Richard. “Paolo Veronese: Disegni e dipinti.” The Burlington Magazine 130 (1988): 490.
1988
Rearick, W. R. The Art of Paolo Veronese, 1528-1588. Exh. cat. National Gallery of Art, Washington. Cambridge, 1988: 188-189.
1989
Brown, Beverly Louise. "Replication and the Art of Veronese." Studies in the History of Art 20 (1989):111-124, repro.
1989
Hinterding, Erik, and Fenny Horsch. “A Small but Choice Collection: The Art Gallery of King Willem II of the Netherlands (1792-1849).” Simiolus 20 (1989): 31.
1989
Humfrey, Peter. “The Provenance of Veronese’s Martyrdom of St Lucy in Washington.” Arte Veneta 43 (1989–1990): 89–90.
1989
Pignatti, Terisio. “Il Martirio di Santa Caterina Tallard di Paolo Veronese.” Artibus et Historiae 10, no. 20 (1989): 59-61.
1991
Pignatti, Terisio, and Pedrocco, Filippo. Veronese: Catalogo completo dei dipinti. Florence, 1991: 318 no. 253.
1992
National Gallery of Art, Washington. National Gallery of Art, Washington, 1992: 105, repro.
1995
Pignatti, Terisio, and Pedrocco, Filippo. Veronese. 2 vols. Milan, 1995: 2:489-491 no. 391.
2001
Cocke, Richard. Paolo Veronese: Piety and Display in an Age of Religious Reform. Aldershot, 2001: 109, 207.
2004
Hand, John Oliver. National Gallery of Art: Master Paintings from the Collection. Washington and New York, 2004: 99, no. 76, color repro.
2004
Humfrey, Peter, et al. The Age of Titian: Venetian Renaissance Art from Scottish Collections. Edited by Aidan Weston-Lewis. Exh. cat. Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh, 2004: 192-193.
2007
Romani, Vittoria. Tiziano e il tardo rinascimento a Venezia: Jacopo Bassano, Jacopo Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese. Florence, 2007: 304, 306.
2012
Brilliant, Virginia, and Frederick Ilchman, eds. Paolo Veronese: A Master and His Workshop in Renaissance Venice. Exh. cat. John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota. London, 2012: 147-148, 265.
2012
Rosand, David. Véronèse. Paris, 2012: 236-237, color repro.
2013
Biferali, Fabrizio. Paolo Veronese tra Riforma e Controriforma. Rome, 2013: 101-102.
2013
Harris, Neil. Capital Culture: J. Carter Brown, the National Gallery of Art, and the Reinvention of the Museum Experience. Chicago and London, 2013: 422.
2013
Zamperini, Alessandra.Paolo Veronese. San Giovanni Lupatoto (Verona), 2013: 265.
2014
Marini, Paola, and Bernard Aikema, eds. Paolo Veronese: L’illusione della realtà. Exh. cat. National Gallery, London; Palazzo della Gran Guardia, Verona. Milan, 2014: 296-297.