BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo
(b. 1598, Napoli, d. 1680, Roma)

Beata Ludovica Albertoni

Cappella Paluzzi-Altieri, San Francesco a Ripa, Rome

In 1674 Bernini completed the marble altarpiece, the Death of the Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, for the Altieri Chapel in S Francesco a Ripa, Rome, which takes up some of the theatrical devices employed in the Cornaro Chapel. All these sacred works are imbued with an intense spirituality: swirling, agitated drapery courses over the figures, mirroring their exalted inner states.

The viewer is guided towards the end of the chapel by a sort of frame. There is no traditional altar, but a composition made by different materials and by different artists. A coloured marble is shaped in the form of a drapery on which lies a statue of Beata Ludovica Albertoni by Bernini. Above the statue hangs a fine painting by Baciccio showing St Anne and the Virgin. Slightly above the statue, in a very unusual position, two series of stucco angels converge towards it. Finally the entire wall is covered by a gilded decoration. Also in this chapel Bernini devised a hidden window to direct light on the face of Beata Ludovica Albertoni.