Paolo Caliari (Veronese)
- I'm analysing his "Bella Nani" (1560) portrait right now, and
something has me bugged.
I am trying to establish just how much flight of fancy he has going
on in this portrait. Yes, it's pretty plain as far as detail does,
but bear with me.
I am trying to finalise the plan of attack on the jewelry in this
painting. First of all, I have never seen or read anything about
anything that looks like those "pauldrons". They look to me like a
feminised variant of plate armour. There is plenty of support
referring to female fashion reflecting military silhouette and
styling during times of war. However, upon a superficial search,
there are no notable wars going on during this period (notable in
that it wasn't special enough to have its' own name, there was of
course the ongoing border battles, the Turkish wars, etc.) that would
justify this portrait being one of propaganda in nature.
Then I started looking at other paintings by Veronese. For the most
part dramatic religious/mythical paintings, donor paintings, the odd
bit of patrician reality, and some portraits. I looked specifically
at jewelry. Portraits (exception being Bella Nani) have very little
on the sitter. The normal amount one would expect - rings, bracelets,
and pearls - lots and lots of pearls. Donor paintings and mythical
paintings - way up there. Large, chunky bits of gold and gem
architecture pinned to bodices. And consistent in purpose too - all
of them are holding on some kind of cloak. Interesting configuration
too, Two largish pins attached to the cloak, connected by chain or
plaque belt to a larger middle pin which is holding the cloak from
sliding back via pinning to the bodice. There was one that was some
exotic bit of strapwork on a nude that was held closed by a large gem
brooch between the breasts. Although not quite as dramatic, this
three brooch configuration also shows up on the "Marriage at Cana" on
the chest of the Bride (with the plaque variant in place of chain).
Does anyone know anything more about this painting? Does it have some
kind of significance I am unaware of? Does it seem to everyone else
the painter had more fun than he deserved adding fantastic bits of
jewelry to this painting? There is nothing in this painting that
suggests that this is a donor painting intended to make the sitter
look like a saint, so I can't see the purpose behind jazzing this
woman up with such large pieces of goldsmithing.