"Vita di Pietro Subleyras." Memorie per le belle arti 2 (February 1786), p. 35, note that the painting [of The Mass of Saint Basil] that Subleyras made for the Vatican was not his greatest work, as the artist was depressed and exhausted at the time; remark that the sketches for it have a merit and a fire that are lacking in the final effort and that they had the occasion to see one of these [the present work] in the collection of the artist's children, although it is no longer with them.
Olivier Michel and Pierre Rosenberg. Subleyras, 1699–1749. Exh. cat., Musée du Luxembourg. Paris, 1987, pp. 107, 336, 341, 343, no. 117, ill. p. 340, call this painting (in a private collection, France) in every way identical to the study in the Hermitage, Saint Petersburg (no. 116), and include it in a group of ten works, group B, that closely follow the Hermitage composition; in the entry for the "French" picture, however, note that "the Leningrad sketch and its French version were repeated on numerous occasions"; hope that juxtaposition of the two sketches during the exhibition will help us distinguish between the artist's preparatory studies and his autograph repetitions [but see Ref. Conisbee 1987, who notes that the two paintings were separated by a portrait, perhaps to avoid a too painful juxtaposition]; mention as sources for Subleyras's composition Muziano's original painting (known through Callot's engraving), a drawing of the subject by Luigi Vanvitelli (fig. 22), which Subleyras may have known, Domenichino's "Communion of Saint Jerome" (Vatican Museums), and also the text of Oration XLIII of Gregory of Nazianzus, the Funeral Oration on the Great S. Basil; wonder if this painting was the work kept by the children of Subleyras and sold "(peu?) avant 1786" [presumably referring to Ref. Memorie 1786].
Philip Conisbee. "Paris, Musée du Luxembourg: Subleyras." Burlington Magazine 129 (June 1987), p. 415, comments on "the large number of smaller repetitions after major altarpieces, notably 'The Mass of St Basil'" and wonders if "Subleyras—and his studio—[were] taking full advantage of what had been a vast, time-consuming and demanding task"; finds this picture, then in a private collection, very beautiful and the Leningrad example disappointing; calls the Louvre painting "an elaboration and expansion of the altar-piece with reference back to the more complex first idea [a drawing] . . . the happiest, most beautiful and resolved of all the versions".
Andreas Schalhorn. Historienmalerei und Heiligsprechung: Pierre Subleyras (1699–1749) und das Bild für den Papst im 17. und 18. Jahrhundert. Munich, 2000, p. 22, eroneously identifies the picture of this subject shown in the painting of Subleyras's studio (Akademie, Vienna), as the study in the Hermitage, St. Petersburg, rather than the MMA picture.
Importants tableaux anciens. Piasa, Paris. December 13, 2006, pp. 26–27, no. 14, ill. (color), call it identical to the Saint Petersburg picture and suggest it could be the sketch that appears in the artist's "L'atelier" (Akademie, Vienna) and was owned by Subleyras's children; mention the influence of Muziano's painting of the subject and of Domenichino's "Communion of Saint Jerome"; comment on the pentimenti visible in infrared light.
Pierre Rosenberg. E-mail to Keith Christiansen. January 29, 2007, notes that he knows this picture well and saw it in a château near Paris; calls it undoubtedly autograph and wonders whether it is a riccordo or a modello; describes it as beautiful but a bit boring.
Stéphane Loire. E-mail to Keith Christiansen. March 14, 2007, notes that the picture came from the chateâu de Guermantes, where it was for many years in the possession of the Hottinguer family.
Victoria K. McCarty. E-mail to Keith Christiansen. May 17, 2007, believes "there is probably a mix of Eastern Orthodox elements [in the vestments] contemporary to Subleyras' time, enhanced by some details known to him of the style and vesture of Patriarchs from the early centuries of Christianity".