Cornaro Chapel - Bernini

Bernini Chapel in Rome restored to its full glory

By Region Central Italy Culture News

The Cornaro Chapel in the Santa Maria della Vittoria church, Rome has been restored to its former glory. The chapel contains one of Bernini’s most celebrated sculptures The Ecstasy of St Teresa.

The Cornaro Chapel is one of Rome’s greatest sculptural masterpieces of the High Roman Baroque period.

The restoration process

The Baroque architect and sculpture genius Gian Lorenzo Bernini created the Ecstasy of St Teresa in 1652. It is the focal point of the chapel. Bernini modestly described it as his “least bad work”.

The superintendency of Rome carried out the restoration process, which included studies of the 17th-century marble sculpture which depicts the mystical experience of St Teresa of Avila.

The saint lies on a cloud in religious ecstasy after encountering an angel. Gilded stucco rays surround the figures. A hidden window in the shrine allows sunshine to accentuate the rays.  

In February 2020 the city restored the Albertoni Chapel, including Bernini’s funerary sculpture of Blessed Ludovica Albertoni, at the church of S. Francesco a Ripa in Trastevere.

Who was Bernini?

Bernini was an Italian sculptor and major figure in the world of architecture. However, he was prominently known as the leading sculptor of his age and credited with creating the Baroque style of sculpture.

Among Bernini’s major commissions is the piazza in front of St Peter’s Basilica. He created two massive semi-circular colonnades, each row of which has four white columns. This resulted in an oval shape allowing gatherings of citizens, pilgrims and visitors to witness the appearance of the pope—either as he appeared on the loggia on the facade of St Peter’s or on balconies on the neighbouring Vatican palaces.

Fountain of the Four Rivers – Ganges

In the Piazza Navona, the Fountain of the Four Rivers (Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi) is a masterpiece of political allegory. Bernini’s brilliance was not just in the creation of the sculpture but in overcoming the low water pressure in the piazza. His sculpture created the illusion of an abundance of water that did not exist. 

Close up from The Rape of Persephone

Quite possibly Bernini’s greatest ‘smaller’ sculptural works are in the Galeria Borghese, also in Rome. The Rape of Persephone and Apollo and Daphne are breathtaking examples of Bernini’s brilliance. As in all his works, Bernini creates a sense of movement, drama and living flesh from the cold inflexibility of marble

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