Pope Gregory XVI Visiting the Church of San Benedetto at Subiaco

Jean-François Montessuy French

Not on view

The magnificently frescoed monastery of San Benedetto, about thirty miles east of Rome at Subiaco, was built during the Middle Ages as a pilgrimage site. The presence of the reigning pontiff during a visit of 1834 imparts the gravity of contemporary history to this picturesque costume piece. He is shown emerging from the Sacro Speco, the cave venerated as the one in which Saint Benedict lived as a hermit about A.D. 500. Montessuy sought to establish his reputation with this, his first such masterwork, at the Paris Salon of 1844. There is no more complete expression of the penchant among Lyonnais artists for surface description than this painting.

Pope Gregory XVI Visiting the Church of San Benedetto at Subiaco, Jean-François Montessuy (French, Lyons 1804–1876 Lyons), Oil on canvas

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