St Benedict's vision of the Apotheosis of St Germain

St Benedict's vision of the Apotheosis of St Germain - Encre, plume, grey & brown wash on paper



Lot n° 74
37.5 cm x 23.5 cm
This is a study for one of the compartments of Mellin's decorations in the vault of the choir of the church in the monastery of Montecassino.  That famous Benedictine abbey, tragically destroyed by Allied bombing in 1943/4, had been rebuilt several times since its foundation.  In 1503 it passed into the possession of the Kingdom of Naples, and when extensive renovations were undertaken in the late 16th and 17th Centuries, Neapolitan artists were employed as well as Roman ones. 

The cupola was to have been decorated with mosaics designed by Cavaliere d'Arpino but in the end, after rejecting Domenichino and Lanfranco as too expensive, the monks hired Belisario Corenzio to paint it.  In 1677 Lanfranco painted the nave, and in 1634 the monks drew up a contract with Mellin, who may have been recommended to them by Cavaliere d'Arpino, for the decoration of the vault of the choir.  The contract was redrawn in 1635, with more favourable terms for Mellin, and the work was apparently done in 1636.  The iconographical program was unusual and included scenes from the life of St Benedict but with a strong emphasis on Old and New Testament events which can be seen as precedents for tenets of the Benedictine rule.