© Soprintendenza Speciale PSAE Roma

Name of Object:

Ecstasy of St. Catherine of Siena


Rome, Latium, Italy

Holding Museum:

Borghese Gallery

 About Borghese Gallery, Rome

Original Owner:


Current Owner:

Italian State

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.

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. https://baroqueart.museumwnf.org/database_item.php?id=object;BAR;it;Mus11;46;en

Prepared by: Sofia BarchiesiSofia Barchiesi

SURNAME: Barchiesi
NAME: Sofia

TITLE: Author and Researcher

Sofia Barchiesi, a graduate and specialist in Art History and recipient of a scholarship from the School of Mediaeval and Modern Art History at Lumsa University, has been working with the Superintendency for Historical Artistic Heritage and the Museums of Rome since the late 1980s. She was responsible for cataloguing the art of the region and museums of Rome, studying the period of the Counter-Reformation particularly closely. She works with journals and writes essays, alternating her research and teaching work.

Translation by: Laurence Nunny
Translation copyedited by: Mandi GomezMandi Gomez

Amanda Gomez is a freelance copy-editor and proofreader working in London. She studied Art History and Literature at Essex University (1986–89) and received her MA (Area Studies Africa: Art, Literature, African Thought) from SOAS in 1990. She worked as an editorial assistant for the independent publisher Bellew Publishing (1991–94) and studied at Bookhouse and the London College of Printing on day release. She was publications officer at the Museum of London until 2000 and then took a role at Art Books International, where she worked on projects for independent publishers and arts institutions that included MWNF’s English-language editions of the books series Islamic Art in the Mediterranean. She was part of the editorial team for further MWNF iterations: Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean Virtual Museum and the illustrated volume Discover Islamic Art in the Mediterranean.

True to its ethos of connecting people through the arts, MWNF has provided Amanda with valuable opportunities for discovery and learning, increased her editorial experience, and connected her with publishers and institutions all over the world. More recently, the projects she has worked on include MWNF’s Sharing History Virtual Museum and Exhibition series, Vitra Design Museum’s Victor Papanek and Objects of Desire, and Haus der Kulturen der Welt’s online publication 2 or 3 Tigers and its volume Race, Nation, Class.

MWNF Working Number: IT1 60


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