Of all the Renaissance painters adored by Gilded Age collectors and amateurs, Paolo Veronese ranks among the top. His lush visions of heaven, vast biblical banquets, and sumptuous mythological scenes evoke a richly operatic fantasy of Renaissance Venice that fueled the imagination of Gardner and her friends.
While American collectors idolized Veronese's most famous works, his vast mythological scenes and towering altarpieces were both hard to come by and impractically large for most houses. Yet, in 1899, while construction of the museum was well under way, Gardner acquired this canvas attributed to Veronese (now thought to be by his studio) and painted for the Dalla Torre family's mainland palace at Udine in the 1580s. Crowned with the flowers of Cupid in a court of gods and goddesses, The Coronation of Hebe was a subject fit for the queen of Fenway Court by a painter whom she and contemporaries held in high esteem.