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.

Fitzwilliam Museum

Trumpington Street, Cambridge, Cambridgeshire, CB2 1RB
01223 332900

Opening times

Tue – Sat, 10am – 5pm

Sun & Bank Holidays, 12noon – 5pm

Closed Mon, 24 – 26, 31 Dec and 1 Jan

Back to top