The Ecstasy of St. Teresa is one of the greatest masterpieces that have been sculpted by the baroque artist, Gian Lorenzo Bernini. Bernini created this life-sized sculpture in white marble for the Cornaro Chapel in Rome under the commission of Venetian Cardinal Federico Cornaro. This sculpture depicts the scene from the autobiography of Teresa of Avila, a nun and reformer, when she was under the throes of religion ecstasy when the Angel sent by God pierced her heart with a pointed arrow. Done entirely in white marble, Bernini in this detailed sculpture has managed to achieve a variety of textures such as the fold of the Angel’s cloth, the texture of the clouds and the sculpted body of the Angel. Bernini has also added drama to the sculpture through the strategic placement of the art piece within the Chapel. The sculpture is placed in a niche where the sculpture is overcast with light falling from above in such a way that the sculpture appears private and secluded. The use of light and dark is typical of the Baroque technique of chiaroscuro (Strickland and Boswell, 2007).
Bernini, himself was a devout Catholic and was the favored artist of Pope Barberini but following his accession of Innocent X, Bernini soon fell out of the favor of the new Pope. It was during this time that Bernini was approached by Cornaro and created this sculpture. However, the theme of religion is apparent in this sculpture also since Bernini attended mass regularly and was part of the movement known as Counter Reformation. Counter Reformation was a movement where the church and devout Catholics wants to bring back the passion for the Christ that Protestants had managed to attack furiously in their Reformation movement.
This sculpture is typical of the Baroque period when most of the artwork was based on the theme of reviving the religious theme and their passion for the people. Baroque tended to favor the elaborate and