The art world of the 17th century was dominated by Gian Lorenzo Bernini, who not only challenged contemporary artistic traditions but encouraged innovative interpretation of subjects. He played a significant role in creating the expressive vocabulary of the Baroque style in sculptural and architectural projects. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1647–52) is one of his masterpieces (Gian Lorenzo Bernini 2016). The mystical figure is located at Cornaro Chapel, Rome and recognized as the most sensually charged creation of the artist. The marble ensemble is intensified by the way Bernini has made use of fusion of painting, and sculpture along with different colored marbles. This is an intense Christian art and an excellent example of Baroque sculpture in Counter-Reformation style. It is meant to convey spiritual aspects of the Catholic faith.
Teresa is shown in her spiritual ecstasy, and one can feel the balance between sense and spirit. The altarpiece in the chapel is seen to give a ‘performance,' as if before spectators or witnesses. The artist has been able to transform stone into vulnerable flesh, representing divine ecstasy. The artwork depicts religious ecstasy and shows Teresa in an intense state of divine joy. The sculpture is theatrically illuminated by natural light that reflects off the bronze shafts behind the sculpture. Sculpted in white marble, there are two figures, one of Teresa and another of an angel standing above her. The angel points a golden spear towards her heart, leaving her soul satisfied and filled with nothing else but the love of God. The intense desire for God leaves Teresa in an expression of moan, revealing a spiritual pleasure in serving Christ.
There was an outrage against Bernini from some devout contemporary observers for depicting a holy experience in a sexual way. However, it is believed that Bernini made use of eroticism to reflect a higher level of spiritual awakening. The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa established Bernini as one of the excellent sculptors in the history of art.
"Gian Lorenzo Bernini (1598–1680)." Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. metmuseum. 2016. Web. 2 Feb. 2016.