In 1563, Paolo Veronese painted The Wedding Feast at Cana. It depicts a famous Bible story in which Jesus performed a miracle at a wedding feast by turning water into wine. The painting is absolutely massive in scale. It measures 267 x 391 inches and is a brilliantly-painted late-Renaissance masterpiece. It is on display in the legendary Louvres in Paris.
The painting fills an entire wall. No other works sit beside it. The two walls flanking it contain paintings, but they might as well have been the watercolor finger paintings of a 5-year-old child. They pale in comparison to Veronese’s breathtaking picture. His painting is filled with color and light, ornate architecture and intricately detailed people. 130 figures grace the scene. The painting struck me dumb with awe. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have stood in front of it, transfixed, and been able to study it in person late one August afternoon. It is one of the most incredible works of art I have ever seen.
And you probably have never heard of it. To be honest, I’d never heard of it either until I stumbled upon it while on a pilgrimage of sorts.
You see, there is another notable painting in that particular room of the Louvre. It is displayed, all alone, on the wall opposite The Wedding Feast at Cana. It hangs in the middle of a wall and is encased in glass. A velvet rope and several museum employees ensure that the thick and perpetual crowd swirling in front of it maintain a respectable distance. The wall the painting hangs on is massive, making the entire display look almost ridiculous. However, it is the reason so many people pay the entrance fee to visit the Louvre. There are a handful of such iconic works at the Louvre, but none draw as many admirers as this portrait of a single, solitary figure. It is La Gioconda, better known as the Mona Lisa.
When, where, and how you display your picture makes all the difference in the world.
You are an artist just as surely as Leonardo da Vinci and Paolo Veronese. The story you tell throughout your life is akin to the portfolio of work that the master artists of the Renaissance left behind. Our stories are articulated in a series of pictures that we generate throughout our lives. We are at once artists building the portfolio and art historians curating a collection of inspiring and beautiful works. The gallery is yours to build. Showcase your works very carefully, very deliberately. Although, in scale, The Wedding Feast at Cana is a large envelope compared to the Mona Lisa as a stamp, there is no doubting which of the two represents a more powerful experience for visitors to the Louvre.
While Mike did not set up the perfect story, he told it in the perfect setting. Articulating your purpose and engaging others is all about displaying your art in just the right way.