Holy Bishops Geminiaus and Severus

Paolo Caliari, detto il Veronese

Verona, 1528 – Venice, 1588


Oil on canvas, 441 x 240cm

In the Chiesa di San Geminiano in Venice, built around 1560, images of Saints Geminiaus and Severus adorned the two central doors of the church organ. Once opened, the backs of these doors were decorated with two smaller canvases: on the left Saint Giovanni Battista and on the right Saint Menas. In the eighteenth century, these canvases were removed from the organ and displayed in the church. Saints Geminiaus and Severus were then united in a single painting. 

The paintings were subject to a series of unfortunate events after the demolition of the church in 1807 and their transferral into the hands of the Austrian imperial family. In 1836 the painting of Saints Geminiaus and Severus was added to the Austrian collection (along with the painting of Saint Giovanni) whilst the Saint Menas canvas went to the Galleria Ducale in Modena. In 1919 the doors returned to Italy, arriving at the Gallerie Estense di Modena in 1924 where they completed the original set. 

Veronese’s luminous use of colour shines through in the figures of the two Saints: their evocative, dynamic monumentality dominate the scene, taking up the entire space below the apse.