how is ecstasy of st teresa reflected in the work of art
The two central sculptural figures of the swooning nun and the angel with the spear derive from an episode described by Teresa of Avila, a mystical cloistered Discalced Carmelite reformer and nun, in her autobiography, The Life of Teresa of Jesus (1515–1582). Her experience of religious ecstasy in her encounter with the angel is described as follows:
The art historian Rudolf Wittkower wrote:
Here are a few of Bernini’s most famous sculptures.
Bernini – then the leading sculptor in Rome – worked on the sculpture from 1647 to 1652, during the reign of the Pamphili Pope, Innocent X (1644-55), from whom he received no patronage, owing to his lengthy close relationship with Innocent’s predecessor, the extravagant Urban VIII (1623-44). At any rate, Bernini received the commission from the Venetian Cardinal Federico Cornaro (15791673), who had selected the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria of the discalced (or “barefoot”) Carmelites as the site for his burial chapel. The chapel’s interior, a stunning combination of architecture as well as, sculpture and painting, was also designed by Bernini, with his sculpture of St. Theresa as its centrepiece. Bernini’s fee was 12,000 scudi, an enormous sum at the time.
Harris, Ann S. Art and Architecture of the Seventeenth Century Art. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, 2004.
Born in the Castilian town of Ávila in 1515, Teresa Sánchez de Cepeda y Ahumada entered a Carmelite convent around the age of twenty, but it was not until the 1550s that she began to experience divine visions like the one to which Gian Lorenzo Bernini gives tangible form here.
Baroque sculpture is associated with the Baroque cultural movement in 17th century Europe. In Baroque sculpture, groups of figures assumed new importance, and there was a dynamic movement and energy of human forms—they spiraled around an empty central vortex or reached outwards into the surrounding space. Baroque sculpture often had multiple ideal viewing angles and reflected a general continuation of the Renaissance’s move away from relief to sculpture created in the round . They were typically designed to be placed in the middle of a large space; for example, elaborate fountains such as Bernini’s Fontana dei Quattro Fiumi (Rome, 1651) or those in the Gardens of Versailles were a Baroque specialty.
A great deal of Baroque sculpture added extra-sculptural elements; for example, concealed lighting, water fountains, or fused sculpture and architecture that created a transformative experience for the viewer . Artists saw themselves as working in the classical tradition and admired Hellenistic and later Roman sculpture.
Under Pope Urban VII, Bernini, who lived in Rome, was the leading sculptor and architect of his day, and benefited from numerous papal commissions. But when Innocent X ascended to the papacy, Bernini’s luck changed. Innocent preferred architect Francesco Borromini. This left Bernini no choice but to seek private commissions.
On two small neighboring stages, statues representing the artwork’s patrons watch the scene unfold, exactly as if they were a theater audience.
Higher up in the cupola a hidden window yielded a semicircle of golden rays that crowned the sculpture. This small window flooded the scene with natural light, creating a dramatic chiaroscuro effect.