Knights of the Art
It was in the city of Verona that Paul Cagliari, the last of the great painters of the
Venetian school, was born. The name of that old city of the Veneto makes us think at
once of moonlight nights and fair Juliet gazing from her balcony as she bids farewell to
her dear Romeo. For it was here that the two lovers lived their short lives which ended so
But Verona has other titles to fame besides being the scene of Shakespeare's story, and
one of her proudest boasts is that she gave her name to the great Venetian artist Paolo
Veronese, or Paul of Verona, as we would say in English.
There were many artists in Verona when Paolo was a boy. His own father was a sculptor
and his uncle a famous painter, so the child was encouraged to begin work early. As soon
as he showed that he had a talent for painting, he was sent to his uncle's studio to be
taught his first lessons in drawing.
Verona was not very far off from Venice, and Paolo was never tired of listening to the
tales told of that beautiful Queen of the Sea. He loved to try and picture her
magnificence, her marble palaces overlaid with gold, her richly-dressed nobles, and,
above all, the wonder of those pictures which decked her walls. The very names of
Giorgione and Titian sounded like magic in his ears. They seemed to open out before him
a wonderful new Paradise, where stately men and women clad in the richest robes moved
about in a world of glowing colour.
At last the day came when he was to see the city of his dreams, and enter into that magic
world of Art. What delight it was to study those pictures hour by hour, and learn the
secrets of the great masters. It was the best teaching that heart could desire.
No one in Venice took much notice of the quiet, hard-working young painter, and he
worked on steadily by himself for some years. But at last his chance came, and he was
commissioned to paint the ceiling of the church of St. Sebastian; and when this was
finished Venice recognised his genius, and saw that here was another of her sons whom
she must delight to honour.
These great pictures of Veronese were just the kind of work to charm the rich Venetians,
those merchant princes who delighted in costly magnificence. Never before had any
painter pictured such royal scenes of grandeur. There were banqueting halls with marble
balustrades just like their own Venetian palaces. The guests that thronged these halls
were courtly gentlemen and high-born ladies arrayed in rich brocades and dazzling
jewels. Men- servants and maidservants, costly ornaments and golden dishes were there,
everything that heart could desire.
True, there was not much room for religious feeling amid all this grandeur, although the
painter would call the pictures by some Bible name and would paint in the figure of our