The Convent keeps several paintings, both in the church as well as in the internal halls and in the cloisters. Among them, the altarpieces of San Pasquale from Baylon and San Giovanni from Capestrano, San Bernardino and Santa Chiara.
The 18th century descriptions of the Mesma church do not mention these two important pieces of the second half on 17th century. Almost for sure they arrived here following to the Napoleonic dissolution, probably within 1820 when the complex was reopened and set up again. With the Napoleonic events the Church of Mesma suffered an almost complete dispersion of his furniture with a few exceptions such as an ancient statue of Sant’Anna and the Crucified Christ, which were carried to San Bernardino in Ameno. As it often happens in such situations, the new decors were bought from other suppressed convents.
A possible place of origin could be the convent of San Rocco in Oleggio. In the second half of the 17th century it counted seven chapels, with pieces of the most important Lombard artists: Andrea Lanzani, Federico Bianchi, Giuseppe Montalto, Federico Panza, Giuseppe Panfilo. Among the mentioned names the hand of the milanese Lanzani (1641-1712) is recognizable in the painting with San Pasquale from Baylon and San Giovanni from Capestrano, placed in the second Mesma chapel on the left side. The church of Oleggio had an altar, which was entitled to these two saints. The painting is subsequent to 1690, year of the canonization of the two saints, and shows undisputable characteristics of the style of the artist: the angel in the upper part with the stretched arm down at the bottom represents almost a sort of signature to be compared with the painting of Rho. At the same time the typing of the faces, the cold colors, turning to fair shades are reliable signs for the attribution of the work to Lanzani.
Also the painting with San Bernardino and Santa Chiara most likely comes from San Rocco in Oleggio, where there was an altar entitled to San Bernardino and therefore the painting could correspond to the one which adorned it. The author is unknown but among the painters mentioned by Cotta for the church of Oleggio, all main representatives of the Milanese figurative culture of the second half of the 17th century, there is also Federico Bianchi (1635approx.-1706). He is for sure the author of the Mesma painting such as its stylistic characteristics reveal. Conceived almost as a standard, with the saint who shows off his own symbol, the painting could be an early work such as suggested by the stiffness of the figures, by the strong chiaroscuros, enlighted by bright flashes coming from the symbols carried by Bernardino and by Chiara. The angels on the left upper part evoke unmistakable typing in his repertoire. The painting can be dated to the 70es of the 17th century, at the very beginning of his prolific carrier during which he works also for the church of the Reformed in Milan, Santa Maria del Giardino, with the painting portraying San Pasquale from Baylon and San Giovanni from Capestrano. The painting was meant for the procession of 1691 celebrating the canonization of the two saints. In the region of Cusio the Bianchi’s presence was confirmed several time, starting from the building site of the Sacro Monte in 1694 to the church of San Rocco in Orta up to the parish church in Carcegna in 1696.
Franciscan saints and Santa Margherita from Cortona
Three paintings of the 19th century adorn the right wall of the church. They are works of the Val Vigezzo painter Lorenzo Peretti (1774-1851) and they date back to 1841. The subjects are Santa Margherita from Cortona, the Franciscan saints and San Bonaventura from Bagnoregio. Their representation has a sort of didactic form. The sight of the Orta Lake from Mesma in the painting with Santa Margherita is evocative. The other saints show off their own symbols, such as if the painter would recall the model of the ancient canonization paintings.
The refectory fresco
Carlo Borsetti from Valsesia is the author of the fresco in the refectory. He realized it in 1727, before his intervention in the cathedral of San Giulio in 1734. The date confirms that in the period he was already famous. The Mesma commission would be therefore the first one in the area of the Orta Lake in a period in which the Cusio’s figurative culture saw the beginning of Luca Rossetti’s career. The represented scene portrays Christ, at the top centre, in a sort of Glory. At his side, there are the secular and religious persons, kneeling down in a devout attitude. Faces belong typically to his repertoire and the artist fully reveals his best characteristics as a painter of frescos.
The meeting of the saints Domenico and Francesco
On a wall of the area that in the past led to the infirmary, there is a painting representing the meeting between the two saints. The fresco was wrongly attributed in the past century to Valentino Rossetti. Actually, it is the work of his much more famous grandson, Luca Rossetti, and his hand is recognizable from the fresh and discreet execution, from the choice of the tones, from the types of faces with delicate coloring. The fresco could date around 1730.
Our Lady of Sorrows
In the first cloister, on the opposite wall to the entrance, there is a fresco with the Holy Virgin pierced by a sword. Such iconography refers to the worship of Our Lady of Sorrows, largely diffused in the 18th century. The painting could be work by Valentino Rossetti and datable to the first quarter of the 18th century.