Collection: Mass of St. Basil the Great

ARTIST: Museum Religious Art Classics


Artist: Pierre Hubert Subleyras – c. 1746

This is a highly finished proposal, or modello, for Subleyras's most important commission: the full-scale design for a mosaic altarpiece for Saint Peter's in Rome. It depicts Saint Basil the Great (ca. 330–379) celebrating the Mass in the presence of the Emperor Valens, a heretical Arian. Surrounded by priests, Basil receives the wine for consecration. Valens's required gifts of bread are presented by figures at the left while to the right the emperor swoons, moved by the solemnity of the Mass. The painter seems to have retained the modello for himself. It is recorded in his posthumous inventory and remains in its original frame.

His feast day is January 2.