Atalanta Receiving the Boar's Head from Meleager

Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari) (Italian (Venetian), 1528–1588)


25.7 x 101 cm (10 1/8 x 39 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Oil on canvas

On View

Italian Renaissance Gallery (Gallery 206)





The hero Meleager invited the beautiful huntress Atalanta to help kill the dangerous Calydonian Boar. The first to strike the beast, Atalanta was awarded its head, much to the chagrin of her male colleagues. Here Atalanta, wearing a maroon dress, holds court in the center of the painting as Meleager, in sky blue, points to the boar’s head held by a servant. The variety of colors and the rhetorical gestures of the figures, which lead the viewer’s eye across the canvas, are typical of the artist. Veronese (his nickname derived from his hometown of Verona) planned and executed small paintings like this with the same care and expensive materials he lavished on his largest works.


Until 1657, Giovanni Batta Raggi (b. 1613 - d. 1657), Genoa [see note 1]; 1658, by inheritance to his brother, Cardinal Lorenzo Raggi (b. 1615 - d. 1687), Rome [see note 2]; until at least 1780, probably by descent within the family, to Giulio Raggi, Genoa [see note 3]; 1818, possibly still at the Raggi palace, Genoa [see note 4]. By 1902, Sir George Lindsay Holford (b. 1860 - d. 1926), Dorchester House, London and Westonbirt, Gloucestershire, England [see note 5]; July 15, 1927, Holford sale, Christie's, London, lot 131, to Agnew, London, for 1,700 guineas (stock no. 6745); October 26, 1928, sold by Agnew to Alessandro Contini Bonacossi (b. 1878 - d. 1955), Florence [see note 6]; May 26, 1930, sold by Contini Bonacossi to Mrs.Edward Jackson Holmes (Mary Stacy Beaman) (b. 1875), Boston; 1964, bequest of Mrs. Edward Jackson Holmes to the MFA. (Accession Date: December 9, 1964)

[1] This is one of five paintings by Veronese, depicting scenes from Roman mythology, that are recorded in Raggi's posthumous inventory of November 4, 1658 (see Piero Boccardo, ed., "L'Età di Rubens," exh. cat. Palazzo Ducale, Genoa, March 20 - July 11, 2004, pp. 325-26, nos. 51-55 and p. 372, cat. nos. 94a-c). Of these, four are at the MFA (accession nos. 59.260, 60.125, 64.2078, 64.2079) and the fifth, showing the Rape of Europa, is in the Rasini collection, Milan.

[2] The paintings are also included in a list, dated November 6, 1658, of works of art to be sent to Raggi's brother in Rome; see Boccardo, ed., 2004 (as above, n. 1), p. 326 ("Cinque bislonghi di Paolo [Veronese]").

[3] After the death of Lorenzo, one painting by Veronese probably remained in Rome, with his cousin Sigismondo, although it is not known which; Sigismondo lent a bislungo, or painting of elongated format, to San Salvatore in Lauro in 1701 and 1710. The others were sent back to Genoa and are recorded in 1780 at the palace of Giulio Raggi, trisnipote (probably a great-grandson or -nephew) of Giovanni Batta. They are described simply as "diverse fregi con piccole figure di Paolo da Verona" (different friezes [i.e., paintings of a long format] with little figures by Paolo Veronese).

[4] In 1818, three of the five paintings - the Rape of Europa and two that are not specified by subject - were recorded at the palace by an anonymous author ("Descrizione della città di Genova da un anonimo del 1818," p. 303).

[5] According to information supplied by the Getty Provenance Index, Holford lent this picture to the Royal Academy Winter Exhibition, Burlington House, London, 1902 (cat. no. 117). He may well have inherited the painting from his father, Robert Holford (b. 1808 - d. 1892), who was an avid collector. When Gustav Waagen visited Dorchester House in 1851, however, he did not record this in the Holford collection.

[6] The information on Agnew's transactions was supplied by the Getty Provenance Index.

Credit Line

Bequest of Mrs. Edward Jackson Holmes