The present pictures are modelli for Daniel Gran's altarpieces painted for Vienna's Schwarzspanierkirche in 1736 and transferred to the Minorite Church, Vienna, in 1786 where they have remained ever since. Knab (loc. cit.) published both works as the primary sketches for the project, listing five versions of the Saint Nicolas sketch, by the workshop and later followers (nos. 027A-E), and one other autograph modello for the Saint Benedict which shows notable differences in the upper parts of the composition (no. O29). As the author points out, the style of both pictures was inspired by the work of Luca Giordano and Francesco Solimena.
The subjects are relatively unusual. The first is taken from the Golden Legend and tells how Saint Nicolas appeared in a cloud of glory and bore away the child Adeodatus from the table of the Agarane king and took him back to his parents. The second subject shows Saint Benedict giving his rule which begins with the words on the open book 'Ausculta o fili praecepta magistri' ('Harken my son to the precepts of the master'). The two young men kneeling before him may allude specifically to the reception of Maurus and Placidus into the order. The figure overhead seems to represent the Catholic faith.