The Dream of Saint Helena

Saint Helena's vision of the True Cross is represented by two angels with the cross appearing to her as she sleeps.

Derived from a more harmoniously composed design by Raphael, known through a number of prints, Veronese’s picture diverges from its source in its dramatic cropping and the unusual, knotty grouping of the angels and the cross at the top. Its format and off-balance composition indicates that it may have been painted as decoration for an organ shutter, perhaps along with a now lost pendant.

Saint Helena, mother of the Emperor Constantine, is said to have received divine guidance in her quest to discover the place where the True Cross, on which Christ had been crucified, was buried.

The attribution to Veronese has occasionally been doubted, but is now generally accepted.

Key facts

Artist dates
1528 - 1588
Full title
The Dream of Saint Helena
Date made
about 1570
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
197.5 x 115.6 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1878
Inventory number
Location in Gallery