Leon Kossoff

From Veronese: The Consecration of Saint Nicholas


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Not on display
Leon Kossoff born 1926
Etching, drypoint and aquatint on paper
563 x 405 mm
Presented by the artist 2007


This print

is one of many works executed by the London-based artist Leon Kossoff in response to paintings

from the National Gallery, in this case, The Consecration of Saint Nicholas, 1561–2, by Paolo Veronese (1528–88). Kossoff etched these works in front of the paintings in question and a quality of spontaneity is characteristic of the finished prints. Tate’s collection includes several of his responses to Veronese’s painting, prints derived from different plates and acquired at different times. P11713 and P11714, both 1998, were acquired by Tate in 1999. P20298 and P20321, both 1986, are part of a group of thirty-four prints (P20296P20329) given to Tate by the artist in 2007. Kossoff collaborated with the artist Ann Dowker on the production of these works. P20298 combines etching, drypoint and aquatint on white wove paper. It is a unique print.

In this altarpiece, Veronese has portrayed the moment of Nicholas’s divinely-ordained consecration as an archbishop. Kossoff follows the original composition quite closely, though the scene is necessarily reversed as a result of the print-making process. He accentuates the architectural features with which Veronese structures this highly theatrical composition, and focuses his attention in particular on the dramatic interactions of the figures. The angel that descends from above dominates the upper part of the scene. In P20298, the saint, placed in the extreme foreground in the lower right (the lower left in Veronese’s painting), is a more pronounced and bending figure than in the original.

Most of the prints that make up the artist’s gift were displayed in the 2007 exhibition Leon Kossoff: Drawing from Painting at the National Gallery.

Further reading:
Richard Kendall, Drawn to Painting: Leon Kossoff Drawings and Prints After Nicolas Poussin, London 2000.
Richard Morphet, Encounters: New Art From Old, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery, London 2000, pp.214–35.
Leon Kossoff: Drawing from Painting, exhibition catalogue, National Gallery, London 2007, reproduced no.10, [p.22].

Alice Sanger
August 2009

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