Guido Reni
St. Cecilia

Oil on canvas
Norton Simon Museum, Pasadena, California

Starting in the 14th century the artists associated St. Cecilia with musical instruments, even though in her legend she has no interest in the music playing at her wedding. ("And she hearing the organs making melody, she sang in her heart, only to God, saying: O Lord, I beseech thee that mine heart and body may be undefouled so that I be not confounded.") In this portrait Reni has it both ways, including an organ and a violin but subordinating both instruments to the rapture evident in the saint's heavenward gaze. The violin rests on the sill, outside of Cecilia's space, and it is turned slightly so as not to be illuminated by the light that falls on her face and arms. Most important, she appears to have lost all interest in her bowing, her eyes fixed on some vision that the viewer may imagine.

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Photographed at the site by Richard Stracke, shared under Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license.