(b. 1638, Vittoriosa, d. 1667, Roma)
Ecstasy of St Catherine of Siena1667
Santa Caterina da Siena a Monte Magnapoli, Rome
The marble relief showing the Ecstasy of St Catherine of Siena was made for the high altar of Santa Caterina da Siena a Monte Magnapoli in Rome. In this relief Cafà isolated the white marble relief against a background of various coloured marbles to achieve a strongly painterly effect: as the almost free-standing figure of the saint, elevated ecstatically on clouds, seems to float out of the framed, brightly coloured background, the traditional boundaries between the genres of painting and sculpture are suspended.
This relief of the Sienese mystic stands in direct relationship to Bernini's Ecstasy of St Theresa and would have been unthinkable without it. Cafà directly established himself through his models and drawings, and even Bernini let it be known that the younger man had overtaken him in his art. Cafà's sculpture reinvented the aesthetic qualities of Bernini's late style in new terms, thereby establishing a bridge between High and Late Baroque sculpture. This is seen most clearly in the Ecstasy of St Catherine of Siena in the Dominican convent of Santa Caterina da Siena a Magnapoli in Rome.