VERONESE’S BIG IDEA. I think Veronese did have a big idea, and it’s right there in his testimony to the Inquisition: “Q. Does it seem suitable to you, in the Last Supper of our Lord, to represent buffoons, drunken Germans, dwarfs, and other such absurdities?
A. Certainly not.
Q. Then why have you done it?
A. I did it on the supposition that those people were outside the room in which the Supper was taking place.” Veronese’s painting shows that human life was going on in the usual way at the time when the Last Supper was going on. It’s an idea that Auden said all the Old Masters knew:
“About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood….”