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Melchiorre Caffa

(1638—1667)


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(1638–67). Maltese sculptor and draughtsman who by 1600 was attached to the workshop of Ercole Ferrata in Rome. During his short life, he became the most important Baroque sculptor in the city in the generation after Bernini, by whom he was strongly influenced. His first major commission was the marble relief of The Martyrdom of S. Eustace in the Pamphili family church of S. Agnese in Agone, Rome, which was completed after his untimely death by Giovanni Francesco Rossi (active 1640–77). Other major projects, also left incomplete, included the Charity of S. Thomas of Villanova for S. Agostino, Rome; the Baptism of Christ for the high altar of Valletta Cathedral, Malta; the Ecstasy of S. Catherine of Siena for the high altar of S. Caterina da Siena a Monte Magnapoli, Rome (1667). He also showed a capacity for intimate and psychologically penetrating portraiture, for instance the bust of Alexander VII (bronze version, New York, Met. Mus.). His capacity for stylistic innovation, and in particular the freedom of his modelling to produce painterly effects, is best appreciated through his terracotta sketch models, many of which are to be found at the Palazzo Venezia, Rome, the National Museum at Valletta, and the Hermitage, St Petersburg. Some of his drawings have been identified (Paris, Louvre; London, BM; Vienna, Albertina).

From The Oxford Companion to Western Art in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Art.


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