ABBATINI, Guido Ubaldo - b. ~1602 Città di Castello, d. 1656 Roma - WGA

ABBATINI, Guido Ubaldo

(b. ~1602 Città di Castello, d. 1656 Roma)

Italian painter and mosaicist. He trained in the Roman studio of Cavaliere d’Arpino. He is principally known for executing fresco decorations in several chapels in Rome to designs by Bernini. Independent commissions, such as the frescoes depicting the Life of Charlemagne (1635-37; Rome, Vatican, Sala di Carlo Magno), reveal, however, that despite his collaboration with Bernini and later with Cortona, his preference was for a restrained classical style, close to that of more conservative contemporaries such as Andrea Camassei and Giovanni Francesco Romanelli.

He assisted Bernini with the vault of the Raimondi Chapel in San Pietro in Montorio (1642-44) and that of the Pio Chapel in Sant’Agostino (1644-45). He also painted the vision of clouds and angels in the vault above Bernini’s marble group of St Teresa in Ecstasy (c. 1647; Rome, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Cornaro Chapel). In 1650 he executed independently the decorative frescoes on the ceiling and side walls of the sacristy of Santo Spirito in Sassia, Rome. He also executed mosaics in St Peter’s, after his own designs and those of Cortona (e.g. 1654-56; chapel of San Sebastiano), as well as carrying out many modest artistic chores in St Peter’s and the Vatican during Urban VIII’s papacy, from gilding and marbling to painting topographical views.

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Cornaro Chapel
Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Cornaro Chapel by

Gian Lorenzo Bernini's Cornaro Chapel

In Rome it was customary to decorate church choirs on high church holidays with temporary decorations constructed of coloured papier mâch� or canvas. The most famous of these are the ones created by Pietro da Cortona for the forty-hour prayer in Rome’s San Lorenzo in Damaso during Holy Week in 1633. Drawings and engravings of these temporary “sacred sets” are the earliest evidence of the increasing tendency in the seventeenth century to transform church spaces into stages for heavenly apparitions and visions. One of the first decorations belonging to this category was the Cornaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome, designed by Gian Lorenzo Bernini. In it architecture, sculpture, and painting combine to form a theatrical whole. The saint and the angel in the famous Ecstasy of St Teresa function as the performers, while the saint’s vision is entrusted to the medium of fresco, executed by Guido Ubaldo Abbatini.