Paolo Veronese (1528-88)
The Dead Christ and Saints

16th century
Church of St. Julian (San Zulián), Venice, Italy

The upper section of the painting draws on the iconographic type that I have called "The Death of Jesus," in which angels bring to the Father the dead body of Jesus and the instruments of his Passion. Here the angels carry the body aloft but there are no instruments and no Father.

In the lower section the man in the center is St. James the Greater, identified by his pilgrim's staff and the cockle-shell emblem below his right shoulder. Below on the left, the man with the book could be St. Mark, the patron saint of Venice, holding his gospel. The man on the right is dressed as a cardinal, probably not St. Jerome because he has neither a lion nearby nor a rock in his hand. He could be Pietro Bembo, a Venetian contemporary of Veronese; his dates are 1470-1547. His face does resemble that cardinal's portrait of 1540 (see below), but Bembo was not a saint. Two other notable cardinals of Venetian origin, also not saints, are Maffeo Gherardi (1406-92) and Giovanni Battista Zeno (1439/40-1501).

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Read more about the iconography of the dead Jesus.
Read more about images of St. James the Greater and St. Mark.

Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.


Titian, Portrait of Cardinal Pietro Bembo, 1540. (Source: Wikimedia Commons.)