The work depicts St Philip Neri, co-founder of the Oratorian order of secular clergy, levitating before a vision of the Virgin and Child, whilst a little girl, shushed by her mother, suggests the Saint is the devil.

The painting has references to the 'Oratorio' or sacred music drama which was a feature of the Oratorian movement. Benefial was one of the most important painters working in Rome in the early eighteenth century but most of his work is still in situ in Italy, which explains why he is not particularly well-known outside that country.


Abate Domenico Martelli, 1721; by descent to Paola Martelli; Private collection, 1963.

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