Luigi Valadier (1726–1785)
St. Benedict, ca. 1773
Gilt bronze and silver
44 1/8 × 13 × 15 in. (112 × 33 × 38 cm)
Cathedral of Santa Maria la Nuova, Monreale
Between 1768 and 1773, Valadier created the magnificent silver high altar (still in situ) for the Cathedral of Monreale, in Sicily. The altar was decorated with bas-reliefs showing scenes from the life of the Virgin (to whom the church was dedicated). For the top of the altar, Valadier created silver statues of six saints closely associated with Monreale — St. Louis, St. Castrense, St. Paul, St. Peter, St. Benedict, and St. Rosalia. These prodigious statues are on display in the exhibition for the first time outside of Monreale.