Virtual Veronese is a research and development (R&D) project looking at how we can share research with a wider audience by using immersive technologies to explore new ways of telling stories. The project will enable us to understand how immersive storytelling can add depth of information, meaning, and emotion to Gallery visitors’ experiences of our paintings.
For two weeks, we are inviting visitors to experience Veronese’s painting The Consecration of Saint Nicholas as it would have been seen in 1562 by using augmented and virtual reality headsets. This is a working prototype that will allow us to collect audience feedback to inform the development of this and other projects.
Reuniting ‘The Consecration of Saint Nicholas’ with San Benedetto al Po
Many of the paintings you see on our walls would have originally hung in spaces that are very different to the gallery setting you see today.
Veronese’s ‘The Consecration of Saint Nicholas’ was commissioned in 1561 as an altarpiece to hang in San Benedetto al Po (near Mantua, Italy), the abbey church of one of the largest and most important Benedictine monasteries in Europe.
The church was radically remodelled and enlarged in 1539 by Giulio Romano, Raphael's prime pupil and himself a great painter and architect. Twenty two years later in 1561, Veronese’s ‘The Consecration of Saint Nicholas’ was commissioned by the abbot, Andrea Asola, as an altarpiece for the church’s chapel dedicated to Saint Nicholas.
The altarpiece remained in San Benedetto al Po until the 1820s, when it was removed from the church during the Napoleonic Wars.
By scanning the chapel and creating a digital model, we have been able to reunite ‘The Consecration of Saint Nicholas’ with the chapel for which it was originally made, for the first time in over 200 years.
The digital model is accompanied by a recording of a local music group performing a Gregorian chant from a choral book that was produced at San Benedetto al Po at around the same time as the altarpiece was commissioned.
This experience is for visitors aged 13 years or over.
Commissioned by the National Gallery and StoryFutures
Produced by Focal Point VR
Supported by Howard and Roberta Ahmanson
Special thanks to members of StoryFutures:
Professor James Bennett, Director and Will Saunders, Chief Creative Officer, StoryFutures
and Niki Strange, Andy Woods, Laryssa Whittaker, Polly Dalton, Mark Lycett, Ian Ferris.
The National Gallery project team:
Dr Rebecca Gill, The Howard and Roberta Ahmanson Curator in Art and Christianity
Dr Susana Avery-Quash, Senior Research Curator (History of Collecting)
Dr Matthias Wivel, Curator of 16th-Century Italian Paintings
Chris Michaels, Director of Digital, Communications, and Technology
Lawrence Chiles, Head of Digital Services
Belinda Phillpot, Head of Creative
Casey Scott-Songin, Senior Manager Data and Insight
Clementine Vaughan, Junior Project Manager