On October 7, 1885 Vincent Van Gogh visited Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and everywhere searched for paintings that would support his rejection of Impressionism and his obsession with the “de terre literalism” of Millet. That is, until he came upon Veronese’s The Marriage of Cana.
When Veronese painted the portraits of his beau-monde in the Marriage of Cana, he had spent on it all the richness of his palette in somber violets, in splendid golden tones. Then — he thought still of a faint azure and pearly-white — which does not appear in the foreground. He detonated it on the background — and it was right . . . So beautiful is that background that it arose spontaneously from a calculation of colors. Am I wrong in this? . . . Surely that is real painting, and the result is more beautiful than the exact imitation of the things themselves. Van Gogh
Although Van Gogh’s battle with a muddy palette was not quite over, the impact of his encounter with the Veronese can already be seen in this painting of a bat, completed immediately on his return from his trip to Amsterdam.