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 Paolo de Matteis (1662-1728) can confidently be recognised in the work.
Paolo de Matteis was born in Piano Vetrale, a hamlet of Orria, in the current Province of Salerno, and died in Naples. He trained with Francesco di Maria in Naples, then with Luca Giordano. He served in the employ of the Spanish Viceroy of Naples. From 1702 to 1705, de' Matteis worked in Paris, Calabria, and Genoa. He is known for his large decorative schemes for Neapolitan churches, including the vault of the chapel of San Ignatius in the church of Gesù Nuovo in Naples. Between 1723 and 1725, de' Matteis lived in Rome, where he received a commission from Pope Innocent XIII.
Although his fame rests mainly on the sizeable commissioned frescoes, De Matteis 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