'The Family of Darius before
by Paolo Veronese
London, The National Gallery.
For 2010/11, the one-day 'Take One
Picture' Continuing Professional Development courses,
run by National Gallery Education, will focus on 'The
Family of Darius before Alexander' by Paolo Veronese.
Using the focus painting as a springboard, the 'Take
One Picture' course will inspire teachers to look at
ways of using paintings in the classroom to promote
cross-curricular learning, and suggest 'ways in' to
paintings to develop pupils' confidence and skill in
responding to images.
Veronese is considered one of the greatest Italian artists.
Although born in Verona, he lived and worked in Venice.
This huge painting was probably made for Francesco Pisani,
who owned the Villa Pisani, outside Venice, which was
specially designed for him by the architect Andrea Palladio.
The story comes from Classical legend, and shows the
family of the defeated Persian king, Darius, asking
for mercy from Alexander and his army, who have invaded
from the west. The captured queen mother, accompanied
by Darius' wife, the queen, and two princesses kneel
at Alexander's feet. The queen mother mistakenly addresses
their appeal for mercy to Alexander's closest friend,
Hephaestion, perhaps misled by his height and splendid
attire. Hephaestion recoils, and an attendant corrects
her, but Alexander magnanimously forgives them, graciously
explaining that the error is understandable.
But which man in the painting is Alexander? Is he the
man in red, or in orange? The body language of both
men is ambiguous. Veronese has left us a mystery, and
we are still not sure of the answer.
here to view work from the 2012 display, inspired
by this painting.
© The National Gallery,