The Marriage at Cana
Oil on canvas, 666 x 990 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
8. And he saith unto them, Draw out now, and bear unto the governor of the feast. And they bare it.
A wedding is celebrated in a courtyard surrounded by Dorian and Corinthian columns. The setting looks more like Veronese's 16th century Venice than like a city in Palestine. According to the gospel of John this is where Jesus performed the first of his seven miracles: he changed water into wine when the host ran out of supply.
Jesus is in the middle, next to his mother Mary. The two figures at the end of the table to the left are probably the bride and the groom. On the balustrade in the background meat is being cut. If is lamb's meat, it could be a reference to the "Lamb of God", the name John the Baptist used for Jesus.
In the foreground sits a group of musicians. Some think that the man in the white gown is Veronese and that the man in red is Titian. Standing between them is an hourglass, symbol of vanity. A dog - symbol of loyalty - lies chewing on a bone.
To the right a man pours wine from a water jug. The two men behind him wonder at the water that has become wine.
Veronese painted this huge canvas commissioned by the monastery of San Giorgio Maggiore in Venice. It would hang there in the refectory for more than two centuries, until Napoleon robbed it and took it to Paris.
The work is one of the main attractions in the Louvre: it is in the same room as Mona Lisa. During a restoration in 1992 it was damaged twice. First by dripping water, and later when one of the supports gave way. Fortunately the holes could be repaired by stitching the canvas back together.