Oil on Canvas, 555 x 1280 cm.
The Feast in the House of Levi or Christ in the House of Levi is a 1573 painting by Italian painter Paolo Veronese and one of the largest canvases of the 16th century, measuring 555 x 1280 cm (18 x 42 feet). It is now in the Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice. It was painted by Veronese for the rear wall of the refectory of the Basilica di Santi Giovanni e Paolo, a Dominican friary, as a Last Supper, to replace an earlier work by Titian destroyed in the fire of 1571.
However, the painting led to an investigation by the Roman Catholic Inquisition. Veronese was called to answer for irreverence and indecorum, and the serious offence of heresy was mentioned. He was asked to explain why the painting contained “buffoons, drunken Germans, dwarfs and other such scurrilities” as well as extravagant costumes and settings, in what is indeed a fantasy version of a Venetian patrician feast. Veronese was told that he must change his painting within a three-month period; instead, he simply changed the title to The Feast in the House of Levi, still an episode from the Gospels, but less doctrinally central, and one in which the Gospels specified “sinners” as present; after this, no more was said.