CAFÀ, Melchiorre
(b. 1638, Vittoriosa, d. 1667, Roma)


Maltese sculptor, whose name is given variously as Cafá or Gafá in Malta. He was the pupil and assistant of Ercole Ferrata, and was never either a pupil or assistant of Bernini, yet his style is similar in its astonishing virtuosity in the expression of religious ecstasy. His marble reliefs and figure groups display an exalted sensibility which exceeds even Bernini's own, and his masterpiece, the Ecstasy of St Catherine of Siena (Rome, Santa Caterina a Monte Magnanapoli) is obviously based on Bernini's St Teresa. Caffá's very short life - only 10 working years - meant that many of his works were finished by others. There are also works in Roman churches (S. Agostino and Sant'Agnese in Piazza Navona), in Lima, Peru and in Malta. A signed bronze bust of Alexander VII is in New York (Metropolitan Museum).

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