Stefano Maderno (c. 1570–1636) – an artist famous for just one statue

Stefano Maderno, Allegory of Peace and Justice above the main altar of the Church of Santa Maria della Pace

Stefano Maderno, Allegory of Peace and Justice above the main altar of the Church of Santa Maria della Pace

Stefano Maderno is one of those sculptors whose work would have been drowned in the depths of oblivion, if not for one, exceptional sculpture of his doing. We are of course speaking of the statue of St. Cecilia in the Church of Santa Cecilia on the Trastevere, which is a must-see for all those who visit Rome. The emotional expression of this sculpture, its mystery and innovativeness draw our attention to the little-known and even less valued artist, yet more of his works can be found in the city on the Tiber, albeit none as interesting.

Stefano Maderno, Allegory of Peace and Justice above the main altar of the Church of Santa Maria della Pace
Stefano Maderno, Saint Cecilia, Basilica of Santa Cecilia
Statue of St. Cecilia, Stefano Maderno, Basilica of Santa Cecilia
Stefano Maderno, Allegory of Prudence (last on the left) – tombstone of Cardinal Bonelli, Church of Santa Maria sopra Minerva
Stefano Maderno, decorative, floral friezes in the Pauline Chapel (Capella Paolina), Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore
Stefano Maderno, enterance portal with statue of St. Peter, Palazzo del Quirinale
Stefano Maderno, angel in the apse of the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto
Stefano Maderno, angel in the apse of the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto
Stefano Maderno, figure of St. Charles Borromeo, Church of San Lorenzo in Damaso

Stefano Maderno is one of those sculptors whose work would have been drowned in the depths of oblivion, if not for one, exceptional sculpture of his doing. We are of course speaking of the statue of St. Cecilia in the Church of Santa Cecilia on the Trastevere, which is a must-see for all those who visit Rome. The emotional expression of this sculpture, its mystery and innovativeness draw our attention to the little-known and even less valued artist, yet more of his works can be found in the city on the Tiber, albeit none as interesting.

He was born in Rome, or perhaps in Palestrina. In the Eternal City he initially worked on reconstructions and restorations of antique sculptures. However, his career truly took off thanks to the commission of which the aim was to commemorate the discovery of the body of St. Cecilia in 1599. The artist was to present her in the same size and pose as that of the earthly remains of the martyr which had just been discovered, thoroughly preserved. The work which he completed the same year, but realistically probably earlier, since it is difficult to believe that he would need only a month, to create a sculpture of such precision, brought him fame, but from the modern point of view if was an element of a great mystification, in which the young artist participated. Following commissions came quickly, but they were never again as spectacular, while their artistic level never as high.



Stefano Maderno died in Rome and was buried in the Church of San Lorenzo in Lucina.

Most important works in Rome:

  •       Church of Sant Cecilia, figure of lying St. Cecilia, 1599
  •     Basilica of Santa Mara sopra Minerva, Prudenza (allegory of Prudence) in the tombstone of cardinal Bonelli (1606), angels adorning the tombstones of the Aldobrandinis (Aldobrandini Chapel) 1611
  •     Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, statues of SS. Mathew and Ephrem (1609), on the façade of the Paolina Chapel (Cappella Paolina). Maderno completed them together with another sculptor F. Caparore), marble reliefs of his doing are also found in the chapel interior, 1612
  •       Palazzo del Quirinale, stuccos in the Paolina Chapel, statue of St. Peter in the enterance portal, 1617
  •       Church of Santa Maria della Pace, allegorical figures of Peace and Justice adorning the main altar, 1614
  •       Palazzo Doria Pamphilj, marble group showing James and an Angel
  •       Church of Santa Maria di Loreto, statues of two angels on the sides of the main altar, 1629
  •       Basilica of San Lorenzo in Damso, statue of St. Charles Borromeo
  •       Church of Santa Susanna, two statues in the lower part of the façade are attributed to him (St. Susanna and St. Felicity)