The Monastery of San Paolo d'Argon was a Benedictine monastery decorated by premier painters of the late-Baroque era. The monastery was initially founded in the 11th century. It was reconstructed in the 16th century to take on the present layout with two cloisters. The design is attributed to Pietro Isabello. The frescoes (1624) in the refectory were painted by Giovanni Battista Lorenzetti.
Starting in 1684, the church was reconstructed by the architect Domenico Messi. He also designed the marble façade was begun in 1688.
The nave ceiling has frescoes depicting the Scenes from the life of Saints Paul and Benedict (1712-1713) by Giulio Quaglio (presumably Giulio Quaglio the Younger). The polychrome marble altars in the church were constructed (1692-1707) by Antonio and Domenico Corbarelli from Brescia. The four evangelists in niches of the facade were sculpted by Santo Callegari il Vecchio. The main altar (1716) was built by the Corbarelli, but has sculptures by the studio of Andrea Fantoni.
In the first chapel on the left is an altarpiece depicting St Andrew with Saints John the Evangelist, Pantaleone, and Lucy (1703) by Antonio Molinari. The flanking walls have canvases depicting the Martyrdom of St John the Evangelistand St Andrew prays to the Cross of Martyrdom, both from 1728, painted by Giuseppe Maria Crespi.
The second chapel on the left has two oval canvases (1727) depicting events that could be linked to the theme of the eucharist: the Gathering of Manna and Melchizedek offers bread and wine to God by Paolo de Matteis.
The third chapel on left, houses a St Gregory the Great prays for liberation from the Plague (1698) by Domenico Carretti, and two canvases depicting St Gregory receives Jesus and St Gregory shows the faithful his bloody corporal, both from 1729, by Antonio Balestra.
The front chapel houses a painting depicting St Benedict giving St Maurus the Benedictine Rules with Saints Placidus and Scholastica (1692) by Gregorio Lazzarini. This is flanked by two canvases depicting St Maurus rescues St Placidus from the water on commands from St Benedict and St Maurus heals the Sick by Sebastiano Ricci.
In the central chapel at right are two oval canvases (1728) depicting the Sacrifice of Isaac and The Bronze Serpent by Paolo de Matteis. In the first chapel on righ is an altarpiece depicting St Alexander decapitated with Saints Grata, Fermo, Rustico, and Antony (1704) by Antonio Bellucci. On the lateral walls are two canvases (1729) depicting Saints Fermo and Rustico in Prison and the Martrydom of St Alexander by Giuseppe Maria Crespi.References:
Kroměříž stands on the site of an earlier ford across the River Morava. The gardens and castle of Kroměříž are an exceptionally complete and well-preserved example of a European Baroque princely residence and its gardens and described as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The first residence on the site was founded by bishop Stanislas Thurzo in 1497. The building was in a Late Gothic style, with a modicum of Renaissance detail. During the Thirty Years' War, the castle was sacked by the Swedish army (1643).
It was not until 1664 that a bishop from the powerful Liechtenstein family charged architect Filiberto Lucchese with renovating the palace in a Baroque style. The chief monument of Lucchese's work in Kroměříž is the Pleasure Garden in front of the castle. Upon Lucchese's death in 1666, Giovanni Pietro Tencalla completed his work on the formal garden and had the palace rebuilt in a style reminiscent of the Turinese school to which he belonged.
After the castle was gutted by a major fire in March 1752, Bishop Hamilton commissioned two leading imperial artists, Franz Anton Maulbertsch and Josef Stern, arrived at the residence in order to decorate the halls of the palace with their works. In addition to their paintings, the palace still houses an art collection, generally considered the second finest in the country, which includes Titian's last mythological painting, The Flaying of Marsyas. The largest part of the collection was acquired by Bishop Karel in Cologne in 1673. The palace also contains an outstanding musical archive and a library of 33,000 volumes.
UNESCO lists the palace and garden among the World Heritage Sites. As the nomination dossier explains, 'the castle is a good but not outstanding example of a type of aristocratic or princely residence that has survived widely in Europe. The Pleasure Garden, by contrast, is a very rare and largely intact example of a Baroque garden'. Apart from the formal parterres there is also a less formal nineteenth-century English garden, which sustained damage during floods in 1997.
Interiors of the palace were extensively used by Miloš Forman as a stand-in for Vienna's Hofburg Imperial Palace during filming of Amadeus (1984), based on the life of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, who actually never visited Kroměříž. The main audience chamber was also used in the film Immortal Beloved (1994), in the piano concerto scene.