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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

Santa Croce, Belluno;[1] sent 1808/1811 to Milan.[2] Generale Conte Teodoro Lechi [1778-1866], Brescia, Italy, by 1814 (no. 49 in 1814 inventory);[3] acquired 1827 by (James Irvine, London and Rome) for Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, 7th bt. [1773-1828], Fettercairn, Kincardineshire, Scotland; by inheritance to his son, Sir John Stuart Hepburn Forbes, 8th bt. [1804-1866], Pitsligo and Fettercairn;[4] (Forbes sale, by Alexander Rainy, London, 2 June 1842, no. 30, as The Martyrdom of St. Giustina, not sold);[5] by inheritance to his daughter, Harriet Williamina Hepburn-Forbes Trefusis, baroness Clinton [1835-1869], Heanton Satchville, Huish, near Merton, Devon, and Fettercairn; 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 [1863-1957], Heanton Satchville and Fettercairn; by inheritance to his daughter, Fenella Hepburn-Stuart-Forbes-Trefusis [1889-1966, Mrs. John Herbert Bowes-Lyon], Fettercairn; gift to her daughter, Diana Cinderella Bowes-Lyon [1923-1986, Mrs. Peter Somervell]; (Somervell sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 25 June 1971, no. 23); purchased by Eisenbeiss. private collection, Germany; (sale, Christie, Manson & Woods, London, 10 April 1981, no. 78); (Matthiesen Fine Art, Ltd., London); sold 1984 to NGA.

Exhibition History
1960
Italian Art and Britain. Winter Exhibition, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1960, no. 67, repro.
1988
Paolo Veronese: Disegni e dipinti, Fondazione Giorgio Cini, Venice, 1988, no. 66, repro.
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.
2012
Paolo Veronese: A Master and his Workshop in Renaissance Venice, The John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, 2012-2013, no. 26, 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 Filippo Pedrocco. 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.