Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Allegory of the Redemption of the World

Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari) (Italian, Verona 1528–1588 Venice)
Pen and black ink, brush and gray wash, highlighted with white gouache, on gray washed paper
24 1/8 x 16 9/16in. (61.3 x 42cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1961
Accession Number:
Not on view
This ‘chiaroscuro’ drawing with the ‘Allegory of the Redemption of the World’ is one of the largest known by Paolo Veronese and was conceived as an independent work of art, not as a preparatory study for a painting. Sibyls grouped around the empty tomb of Christ and prophets situated in the clouds above act as intermediaries between the earthly and heavenly realms. The scrolls they hold refer to prophesies for the redemption of the world, the idea embodied above. There, one sees the Holy Trinity with Christ blessing a kneeling figure—either Adam or Saint John—who is presented by Mary. Veronese, one of the great masters of pictorial representation "di sotto in su," (from below) imbued the heavenly realm with a lofty character suited to the exalted theme.

Jonathan Richardson, the noted seventeenth-century English collector of Old Master drawings, owned this work and inscribed a lengthy explanation of the obscure subject on its verso (see here "Signatures, Inscriptions and Markings" while for a further reading of Richardson’s inscription see Whistler 2014). The text that Richardson has transcribed gives an elaborate explanation of the allegorical intentions of the artist, and it is particularly interesting concerning the presence of the sibyls at the bottom of the composition; holding prophetic scrolls, they are gathered around an empty tomb and are oblivious to the great revelation above them. Irwin Panofsky points out, however, that the description may err in describing the figure kneeling in intercession besides the standing Virgin as the "First Author of Original Sin," namely Adam. In placement and appearance this figure would seem to be John the Baptist, who often accompanies the Virgin as joint intercessor for mankind at the Last Judgment.
Inscription: Annotated in pen and brown ink on reverse of old mount in Richardson's hand, This Divine Poetry represents the Final Completion of that Great & Sublime Mystery of the / Redemption of the World; Foretold, in various Manners & distant Times, by the Prophets / & Sibyls, & in its Due Time Fully Accomplish'd by the Virgin Mary's presenting ye / First Author of Original Sin to the Glorious Redeemer, her Son, (now returned again / to Heaven, after having performed his Great Work; & Sitting at the Right Hand of his / Father, in United Majesty with the Holy Ghost) for Remission & Forgiveness of his Sin, &, in His, of That of / All Mankind, which They had Incurred through Him. Which Solemn Authentic / Act of Divine Mercy is Lowdly Celebrated with the Universal Jubile of the Heavenly Quires. / N. The Prophet in ye middle, in front, holding the scroll of his Prophecy, is Paolo himself. See Ridolfi. / N. The Prophets are plac'd Above, & Near their High Inspirers; fixing their Eyes with Transport / on the great Event; the Fulfilling and Completion of their own Prophecies, clearly Understood by Them: / : selves; while the Sibyls, whose Prophecies were by Compulsion; without Their being Let Into the / Knowledge and Tendency of their own high Illumination, are only attentive to one another, Below. / "Hà ancora it Sig. Gioseppe Caliari, nipote et unico Erede di quella Famiglia, molti Disegni a Chiaro Scuro in carte tinte; I "che non sono men a pregiarsi che le Opere Colorite; havendo Paolo con impareggiabile pratica, e felicità non me: / ":no, Disegnato. quali vengono dal Sig. Caliari detto con somma accuratezza conservati." Ridolfi, vit. di Paolo. 1. 331. [actually Ridolfi, 1648, pp. 329, 331] / See also Vie des Peintres de M. d'Argenville, & Don Antoine Joseph Pernety.

Marking: The recto of the sheet bears the collectors' marks of Peter Lely (Lugt 2093) and Jonathan Richardson, Jr. (Lugt 2170) at the right border. Part of the "L" from the Lely mark is cropped, indicating that the drawing was also cropped.
Sir Peter Lely (Pieter van der Faes) (Dutch, British); Jonathan Richardson Jr. (British); Émile Norblin; Hôtel Drouot, Paris, January 30, 1863, lot 12; Vendor: Jacques Seligmann and Co., New York
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings from New York Collections I: The Italian Renaissance," November 8, 1965–January 9, 1966.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "Old Master Drawings from American Collections," April 29, 1976–June 13, 1976.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," May 5, 1998–September 14, 1998.

Palazzo della Gran Guardia, Verona. "Paolo Veronese: l'illusione della realtà," July 5, 2014–October 5, 2014.

Jacob Bean "The Drawings Collection." The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 20, New York, 1962, p. 164, fig. 8.

Jacob Bean 100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York Graphic Society, New York, 1964, no. 25, repr.

Jacob Bean, Felice Stampfle Drawings from New York Collections, Vol. I: The Italian Renaissance. Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1965, p. 73, no. 129, ill.

Musée du Louvre Le XVI Siècle Européen. Dessins du Louvre. Exh. cat. Paris, 1965, p. 53, no. 114.

Erwin Panofsky Problems in Titian, Mostly Iconographic. New York, 1969, pp. 65-66.

Ebria Feinblatt Old Master Drawings from American Collections. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, 1976, p. 48, no. 51, repr.

Richard Cocke Veronese's Independent Chiaroscuro Drawings. Master Drawings. vol. 15, no. 3, New York, Autumn 1977, p. 264, no. 2, repr. (Section B: ""Further Drawings with Inscriptions which were not Recorded by Ridolfi.").

William R. Rearick Maestri veneti del Cinquecento: Porta, Schiavone, Jacopo Bassano, Tintoretto, Paolo Veronese, Francesco and Leandro Bassano, Zelotti, Farinati, Palma il Giovane, etc.. Biblioteca di disegni (v.6), Florence, 1980, p. 45, under no. 23.

Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turčić 15th and 16th Century Italian Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1982, pp. 156-58, no. 151, repr., ill.

Richard Cocke Veronese's Drawings with a Catalogue Raisonné. Ithaca, 1984, p. 91, under no. 26, repr.

Paola Marini, Bernard Aikema Paolo Veronese. L'illusione della realtà. Exh. cat. Palazzo della Gran Guardia, Verona. Milan, 2014, pp. 272-73, no. 5.8 (entry by Thomas Dalla Costa).

Catherine Whistler, William L. Barcham "The Collector's Eye: Viewing Veronese's Chiaroscuro Drawings in Late Sixteenth-Century Venice" Artibus et Historiae (Essays in Honour of Stefania Mason). Ed. by Linda Borean, no. 70 (XXXV), 2014, pp. 238, 242, note 20 and fig. 8.

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