Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast

May 12 2021

Image of Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast


Posted by Adam Busiakiewicz: have penned a rather nice summary of Cynthia Saltzman's new book Plunder: Napoleon’s Theft of Veronese’s Feast. The book focuses on the highly political nature of Napoleon's requisition of Veronese's masterpiece from the refectory of the San Giorgio Monastery, Venice, in May 1797. Indeed, after the fall of Napoleon's Empire a deal was eventually struck with the Austrian occupiers of Venice so that the enormous picture would remain in the Louvre, the location where it has been ever since.

The final paragraph of the piece finishes:

[The retention of Veronese's painting] would seem to have been a victory for the Louvre, but its leadership was still irate over all the other treasures soon to leave France’s borders. Just a few days after the Veronese deal was completed, Vivant Denon, the Louvre’s first director, resigned. Before he left, he penned an angry account of what had transpired at the museum. In it he wrote, “Europe had had to be conquered in order to fashion this, Europe had had to join together to destroy it.” Today, the wing of the Louvre where the Veronese painting hangs bears Denon’s name.

Coincidentally, some Italians have turned Veronese's painting into a popular 'meme' to celebrate the country's 'reopenings' from lockdown:

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