Name of Object:

Ecstasy of St. Catherine of Siena


Rome, Latium, Italy

Holding Museum:

Borghese Gallery

 About Borghese Gallery, Rome

Date of Object:

Late 16th century

Artist(s) / Craftsperson(s):

Agostino Carracci (1557, Bologna-1602, Parma)

Museum Inventory Number:


Material(s) / Technique(s):

Oil on canvas


h: 90 cm; w: 69 cm


Borghese Collection (1790)

Type of object:


Place of production:



The painting, which because of its small size was undoubtedly intended for private worship, is first listed in the Borghese Collection in 1790. The canvas shows St. Catherine of Siena, who belonged to the order founded by St. Dominic, who died in 1380 and was canonised in 1461.
The saint is shown with her typical attributes: the crown of thorns, heart, crucifix and lily, plus a representation of the stigmata, which she received on 1 April 1375. The luminous background highlights the figure, which is arranged along a diagonal line inspired by the work of Correggio.
The two angels that hold the saint emphasise the spirituality of her ecstasy, nonetheless returning her to reality. The work is rendered with great sensitivity by Agostino (who founded the renowned Accademia degli Incamminati in Bologna with his brother Annibale and cousin Ludovico).
Agostino's work uses the natural world as a model. The canvas, usually dated to the final decade of the 16th century, is perfectly consistent with the dictates imposed on artistic production in the Counter-Reformation, stating that representations of saints must inspire compassion, the spirit of emulation and prayer among the faithful.

View Short Description

The canvas shows the ecstasy of St. Catherine of Siena, who belonged to the Dominican order. Here the saint is shown with her usual attributes, similar to the Passion of Christ (crown of thorns, wounded heart, crucifix and – surprisingly – the stigmata that Catherine received in 1375). Agostino Carracci, who founded the renowned Accademia degli Incamminati in Bologna with his brother Annibale and cousin Ludovico, is one of the exponents of the naturalism movement, in place of the extreme realism of the art of Caravaggio and his followers.

Original Owner:


Current Owner:

Italian State

How Object was obtained:

Acquired by the Italian State in 1902.

Selected bibliography:

Della Pergola, P., Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Rome, 1955, n.11, pp. 18–19.

Additional Copyright Information:

Copyright image: Archivio fotografico Soprintendenza Speciale PSAE e Polo Museale della Città di Roma.

Citation of this web page:

Sofia Barchiesi "Ecstasy of St. Catherine of Siena" in "Discover Baroque Art", Museum With No Frontiers, 2024.;BAR;it;Mus11;46;en

Prepared by: Sofia Barchiesi
Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Mandi Gomez

MWNF Working Number: IT1 60