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Vatican Mosaic Depicting Saints Valeria and Martial

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Vatican Mosaic Depicting Saints Valeria and Martial

- Item No.

A recreation of an original Baroque painting by Giovanni Antonio Galli

Key Features

  • This monumental mosaic depicts a pivotal moment in the lives of two Roman Catholic Saints
  • The mosaic is a recreation of an original Baroque painting by Giovanni Antonio Galli
  • It is a work of skilled artistry by the prestigious Vatican Mosaic Studio
  • It hung in St. Peter's Basilica for 70 years

Item Details

  • Width:
    78" Inches
  • Height:
    130" Inches
  • Depth:
    8" Inches
  • Period:
  • Origin:
  • Artist:
    Vatican Mosaic Studio
Salvatore Nobili and the Vatican Mosaic Studio


The Martyrdom of Saint Valeria and Saint Martial

Signed on the base

This monumental mosaic was specifically made for and displayed in the Vatican. It is almost certainly the only artwork of its kind to come on the market in the past generation. Created at the holy site's famed mosaic studio, this rare work took a team of seven skilled artisans over two and a half years to complete. Begun in 1893, it was completed and officially installed in St. Peter's Basilica in 1895. Masterpieces from the Vatican, especially those on the grand scale of this incredible mosaic, almost never leave the confines of this holy site. 

This mosaic is based upon a 17th-century Baroque painting entitled The Martyrdom of Saint Valeria and Saint Martial which was commissioned for the "New" St. Peter's in 1627. The painting depicts a pivotal moment in the lives of two Catholic Saints, St. Valeria and her mentor, St. Martial. In it, St. Valeria, newly martyred for her faith, carries her head to St. Martial to be blessed. This painting hung above the altar of St. Martial in St. Peter's Basilica until it was removed in 1824. Cardinals and bishops from Limoges, France, from whence the saints originally hailed, campaigned tirelessly for over 60 years to have the painting reinstalled, but by the time their pleas were addressed, the painting had already found its way into another Italian museum collection. 

In the 1880s, Pope Leo XIII finally agreed to fund the painting's recreation in mosaic form and its subsequent installation. This mosaic was then commissioned and displayed in St. Peter's Basilica until 1963, then taken to the Vatican Mosaic studio, where it was displayed for 20 years. It was eventually gifted by Pope John Paul II to a very generous parishioner.

In a 1914 publication entitled The Vatican: Its History, Its Treasures, the lead mosaic artist of this work, Nobili published an essay, The Mosaic Factory, in which he stated:

"The mosaic artist who has to copy exactly a certain work must proceed very slowly, because the shades, which are obtained rapidly with the brush, need careful study before they can be rendered in mosaic.  Looking at the finished work, it is difficult to realize the time and patience it requires.  But the result is worth all the trouble because, while the picture may deteriorate, the mosaic lasts throughout the ages with its beauty unimpaired."

The precision and detail executed by the prestigious Vatican Mosaic Studio as well as the fact that this mosaic hung at the Vatican for almost a century gives this mosaic impressive provenance. It is incredibly rare that works such as this, a document of both artistic and religious history executed with magnificent detail, skill, and artistry, come up for sale. In fact, it is the only known example not housed in a museum.

This extraordinary mosaic is pictured in The Mosaics of Saint Peter's: Decorating the New Basilica, 1983, by F. DiFederico

Inscribed at the base of the Mosaic are the words:

J.A. SPADORINO -1595-1650-PINXIT R.F.S.P.V. FECIT -1895

Which translates as:

St Martial Bishop of Limoges and St Valeria Virgin, Beheaded
J.A. Spadarino 1595-1650 painted it R.F.S.P.V made 1895

Dated: 1895

130" high x 78" wide x 8" deep

The Altar of St. Martial, St. Peter's Basilica, The Vatican, Rome, 1895-1963
The Vatican Mosaic Studio, 1963-1983
Private Collection
M.S. Rau Antiques 

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Price: $985,000
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