Although born in the south of France, Pierre Subleyras spent his most productive years in Rome. Between 1739 and 1746, Subleyras completed two very significant commissions for the Roman church: the portraits of two ‘venerables’, Jean d’Avila and Battista Vernazza. This was a rare honour for a non-Italian painter, and one that indicates something of Subleyras’ profile in Rome.
Having attained the first degree of sanctity in the process towards becoming a saint, multiple portraits of the venerable were produced. The pope would retain the first of these posthumous portraits, while copies in various sizes were distributed throughout the papacy. The muted, highly controlled palette and the stark composition of this painting conjure the poverty and obedience of the Canoness Battista Vernazza.