NEW ORLEANS — Two Renaissance masterpieces are coming to the New Orleans Museum of Art — only the third museum ever to display them together, and the second outside Italy.
Paolo Veronese (POW-loh veh-roh-NAY-zuh) painted "St. Jerome in the Wilderness" and "St. Agatha Visited in Prison by St. Peter" during 1566 and 1567 for a church on Murano, an island in the lagoon of Venice.
"Though known to scholars, the paintings' remote location ... made them difficult to access and study," a museum news release sent Monday said. The pair of paintings had never been shown outside Italy from their creation until the two-city U.S. exhibition which is bringing them to New Orleans, it said.
Their first showing after a thorough restoration by Venetian Heritage was last year at a museum in Venice. The Frick Collection in New York showed them from October through March, and they will be in New Orleans starting Thursday (April 19) through Sept. 3. Both the restoration and the tour were sponsored by Bulgari.
"The dynamic movement of the figures, bold modeling, and open and scintillating brushwork combined with high-keyed color create a dramatic effect, representing Veronese at the height of his abilities," the museum said.
Nobody knows how a priest on a small island was able to commission work by Veronese, who was then one of the most successful and highest-paid painters in Venice, according to a news release from The Frick.
The painting of St. Jerome, his chest bruised from beating himself with a rock, is about 7½ feet (2.3 meters) high. The detailed painting of St. Agatha and St. Peter, lit by an angel carrying a torch, is nearly 7 feet (2.1 meters) wide.
"The Veronese masterworks complement NOMA's strength in Northern Italian art, particularly works from 16th, 17th and 18th century Venice," said NOMA director Susan Taylor. "We are pleased to be able to present these magnificent paintings to the people of the city of New Orleans."