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

Ecstasy of St Eustace

Sant'Agnese in Agone, Rome

Some time before 1660 Cafà joined the workshop, in Rome, of the sculptor Ercole Ferrata, with whom he remained connected even after becoming an independent master. Ferrata passed on to Cafà the moderated Baroque style of his own teacher, Alessandro Algardi, but more important was the impression made by the works of Bernini.

Cafà's first known independent commission, awarded in December 1660 by Prince Camillo Pamphili, was for a monumental marble relief of the Martyrdom of St Eustace for the Pamphili family church in Rome, Sant'Agnese in Agone. Cafà's original conception can be seen only in the terracotta sketch model (Palazzo Venezia, Rome); the marble relief, apart from the main figure, was completed with major alterations after his death by Ferrata's workshop and by Giovanni Francesco Rossi (active 1640-77). The work adheres closely to Bernini's illusionistic conception of the relief, but the freedom of composition and modelling seems to proclaim a new, late Baroque manner.

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