“Even Bernini or Borromini in their most exuberant moods would never have gone quite so far [as the designers of Melk Monastery]. [W]e must imagine what it meant for a simple Austrian peasant to leave his farmhouse and enter this strange wonderland. There are clouds everywhere, with angels making music and gesticulating in the bliss of Paradise… everything seems to sway to and fro in the rhythm of jubilation. Nothing is ‘natural’ or ‘normal’ in such a church—it is not meant to be. It is intended to give us a foretaste of the glory of Paradise. Perhaps it is not everybody’s idea of Paradise, but when you are in the midst of it all it envelopes you and stops all questionings. you feel you are in a world where our rules and standards simply do not apply.
“One can understand that north of the Alps, no less than in Italy, the individual arts were swept into this orgy of decoration and lost much of their independent importance.”
Ernst H Gombrich, “Chapter 22: Power and Glory: The Catholic North,” The Story of Art, 15th edition