gian lorenzo bernini view of chapel and ecstasy of st. teresa 1623-1624
Essentially, Bernini designed the chapel as a theatre for his sculpture. The latter is set in a niche above and behind the altar, flanked by pairs of marble columns. It is theatrically illuminated by beams of natural light from a hidden window overhead. This natural light mingles with and reflects off a sheaf of vertical gilt bronze shafts behind the sculpture, sculpted to resemble the rays of the sun. High above, the ceiling of the Chapel is frescoed with trompe l’oeil images of a sky filled with cherubs.
One of the greatest sculptures from the era of Baroque art, the marble ensemble known as The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (L’Estasi di Santa Teresa), located in the Cornaro Chapel of the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria, was carved by Bernini (1598-1680), one of the leading Baroque sculptors of the Roman school. A deliberately intense work of Christian art, it is regarded as one of the most important examples of the Counter-Reformation style of Baroque sculpture, designed to convey spiritual aspects of the Catholic faith. The work depicts an episode of “religious ecstasy” in the life of the cloistered Spanish mystic and Carmelite nun – Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) – as described in her autobiography “The Life of Teresa of Jesus”. Despite its status as a key work of religious art, critics of the work are divided as to whether Teresa is experiencing an intense state of divine joy, or a physical orgasm. Indeed some devout contemporary observers expressed outrage that Bernini would debase such a holy experience by depicting it in a sexual way. However, Professor Robert Harbison, in his book Reflections on Baroque (2000, University of Chicago Press), has poured doubt on the notion that Bernini, a follower of St. Ignatius of Loyola, intended any such thing. Instead, he believes that Bernini used the erotic character of the experience as a springboard to a new and higher type of spiritual awakening. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa is a key work in establishing Bernini as one of the greatest sculptors in the history of art.
The greatest single example of Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s mature art is the Cornaro Chapel in Santa Maria della Vittoria, in Rome. The chapel’s focal point is Bernini’s sculpture of The Ecstasy of St. Teresa (1645–52), a depiction of a mystical experience of the great Spanish Carmelite reformer Teresa of Ávila.
Bernini’s career began under his father, Pietro Bernini, a Florentine sculptor of some talent who ultimately moved to Rome. The young prodigy worked so diligently that he earned the praise of the painter Annibale Carracci and the patronage of Pope Paul V and soon established himself as a wholly independent sculptor. He was strongly influenced by his close study of the antique Greek and Roman marbles in the Vatican, and he also had an intimate knowledge of High Renaissance painting of the early 16th century. His study of Michelangelo is revealed in the St. Sebastian (c. 1617), carved for Maffeo Cardinal Barberini, who was later Pope Urban VIII and Bernini’s greatest patron.
Bernini’s architectural designs are conspicuous in their innovative combination of architecture and sculpture, dubbed bel composto (beautiful whole), as well as in their exploitation of natural light and space. Nowhere is this more apparent than the Cornaro Chapel in the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria (1647-1652). While attention always focuses on The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, its effect would be diminished without the setting of multicolored marble, gilt bronze reliefs, stucco and marble portraits, as well as the concealed source of daylight above the central group. This concern for the setting, as well as a taste for theatricality, is also visible in the lavish fountains for Piazza Barberini (Triton, 1642-1643) and Piazza Navona (The Four Rivers, 1648-1651) and in the ten marble angels he designed to stand against water and sky along the Ponte Sant’Angelo, a bridge across the Tiber to the Vatican (1668-1669; the two angels Bernini carved himself are preserved in the church of Sant’Andrea delle Fratte). Interestingly, Bernini was also active as a set designer, playwright, and director.
By then, Bernini was at the head of an extensive team of sculptors, stonemasons, bronze casters, draftsmen, and engineers. Named “Architect to Saint Peter’s” in 1629 (after Carlo Maderno’s death), he continued to remodel the basilica throughout the following decades, most notably erecting the Cathedra Petri (1655-1666), the reliquary housing Peter’s throne located above the main altar. His career survived the humiliating demolition, in 1646, of two bell towers he had remodeled for the façade after cracks appeared in one of them. He went on to devise the circular, quadruple colonnade in the piazza outside Saint Peter’s (1656-1667) that radically altered the approach to the basilica by framing the façade and creating an open space for ceremonies.
I saw in his hand a long spear of gold, and at the iron’s point there seemed to be a little fire. He appeared to me to be thrusting it at times into my heart, and to pierce my very entrails; when he drew it out, he seemed to draw them out also, and to leave me all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great, that it made me moan; and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied now with nothing less than God. The pain is not bodily, but spiritual; though the body has its share in it. It is a caressing of love so sweet which now takes place between the soul and God, that I pray God of His goodness to make him experience it who may think that I am lying. 
The entire ensemble was overseen and completed by a mature Bernini during the Pamphili papacy of Innocent X. When Innocent acceded to the papal throne, he shunned Bernini’s artistic services; the sculptor had been the favourite artist of the previous and profligate Barberini pope. Without papal patronage, the services of Bernini’s studio were therefore available to a patron such as the Venetian Cardinal Federico Cornaro (1579–1653).
Zgodnie z art. 13 ust. 1 i ust. 2 rozporządzenia Parlamentu Europejskiego i Rady (UE) 2016/679 z 27 kwietnia 2016 r. w sprawie ochrony osób fizycznych w związku z przetwarzaniem danych osobowych i w sprawie swobodnego przepływu takich danych oraz uchylenia dyrektywy 95/46/WE (RODO), informujemy
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