An exquisite oval miniature of the Virgin Mary in a blue drapery. She seems deeply immersed in contemplation with her downward gaze. Although not signed, the hand of Francesco de Mura (1696-1782) can confidently be recognised in the work.
Francesco de Mura is considered one of the leading Baroque painters of the Golden Age of Naples. From 1708 to 1729, he was trained in the studio of the celebrated Francesco Solimena (1657-1747) and was mainly active in his native city of Naples as well as in Turin. De Mura was renowned in his day, especially for numerous ceiling frescoes in churches, as well as for significant commissions for the court. For example, he was commissioned by Queen Maria Amalia of Saxony for two very large allegorical ceiling paintings in the Palazzo Reale in the heart of Naples and later painted several enormous frescoes for the royal palace of Turin.
Although his fame rests mainly on the sizeable commissioned frescoes, De Mura also specialised in delicate devotional paintings. These works, which were often considerably small in size, frequently feature female saints and are characterized by their typical faces either full of emotion or in quiet devotion. The gaze is usually averted, in order to emphasise the impression of a deep experience of spirituality.