The result was that the painter was ordered to amend the picture, within the month, at his own expense; but he does not seem to have done so. There are two dogs and no Magdalen. The dwarf and the parrot are there still. Under the table is a cat.
[Illustration: THE FEAST IN THE HOUSE OF LEVI FROM THE PAINTING BY VERONESE In the Accademia]
Veronese has in this room also an “Annunciation,” No. 260, in which the Virgin is very mature and solid and the details are depressingly dull. The worst Tuscan “Annunciation” is, one feels, better than this. The picture of S. Mark and his lion, No. 261, is better, and in 261a we find a good vivid angel, but she has a terrific leg. The Tintorettos include the beautiful grave picture of the Madonna and Child giving a reception to Venetian Senators who were pleased to represent the Magi; the “Purification of the Virgin,” a nice scene with one of his vividly natural children in it; a “Deposition,” rich and glowing and very like Rubens; and the “Crucifixion,” painted as an altar-piece for SS. Giovanni e Paolo before his sublime picture of the same subject—his masterpiece—was begun for the Scuola of S. Rocco. If one see this, the earlier version, first, one is the more impressed; to come to it after that other is to be too conscious of a huddle. But it has most of the great painter’s virtues, and the soldiers throwing dice are peculiarly his own.
Room X is notable for a fine Giorgionesque Palma Vecchio: a Holy family, rich and strong and sweet; but the favourite work is Paris Bordone’s representation of the famous story of the Fisherman and the Doge, full of gracious light and animation. It seems that on a night in 1340 so violent a storm broke that even the inner waters of the lagoon were perilously rough. A fisherman chanced to be anchoring his boat off the Riva when a man appeared and bade him row him to the island of S. Giorgio Maggiore. Very unwillingly he did so, and there they took on board another man who was in armour, and orders were given to proceed to S. Niccolo on the Lido. There a third man joined them, and the fisherman was told to put out to sea. They had not gone far when they met a ship laden with devils which was on her way to unload this cargo at Venice and overwhelm the city. But on the three men rising and making the sign of the cross, the vessel instantly vanished. The fisherman thus knew that his passengers were S. Mark, S. George, and S. Nicholas. S. Mark gave him a ring in token of their sanctity and the deliverance of Venice, and this, in the picture, he is handing to the Doge.
Here, too, is the last picture that Titian painted—a “Deposition”. It was intended for the aged artist’s tomb in the Frari, but that purpose was not fulfilled. Palma the younger finished it. With what feelings, one wonders, did Titian approach what he knew was his last work? He painted it in 1576, when he was either ninety-nine or eighty-nine; he died in the same year. To me it is one of his most beautiful things: not perhaps at first, but after one has returned to it again and again, and then for ever. It has a quality that his earlier works lack, both of simplicity and pathos. The very weakness of the picture engages and convinces.