ABBATINI, Guido Ubaldo
(b. ca. 1602, Città di Castello, d. 1656, Roma)

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Cornaro Chapel

c. 1650
Oil on canvas, 168 x 120 cm
Staatliches Museum, Schwerin

In Rome it was customary to decorate church choirs on high church holidays with temporary decorations constructed of coloured papier mâché or canvas. The most famous of these are the ones created by Pietro da Cortona for the forty-hour prayer in Rome's San Lorenzo in Damaso during Holy Week in 1633. Drawings and engravings of these temporary "sacred sets" are the earliest evidence of the increasing tendency in the seventeenth century to transform church spaces into stages for heavenly apparitions and visions. One of the first decorations belonging to this category was the Cornaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In it architecture, sculpture, and painting combine to form a theatrical whole. The saint and the angel in the famous Ecstasy of St Teresa function as the performers, while the saint's vision is entrusted to the medium of fresco, executed by Guido Ubaldo Abbatini.