I need please an explanation of the values, influences, themes, techniques, subjects and characteristics of the period of style for Bernini's sculpture The Ecstasy of St. Teresa and the image of...

I need please an explanation of the values, influences, themes, techniques, subjects and characteristics of the period of style for Bernini's sculpture The Ecstasy of St. Teresa and the image of Caravaggio's Crucifixion of St. Peter.

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M.P. Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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First let's consider that Bernini is, in every sense, "a Renaissance man". Not only was he versed in sculpture as an artist, but he was also an architect, a historian, poet, dramatist, and avid in literature. Bernini read the diary of St. Teresa de Avila's The Life of Saint Teresa of Ávila by herself, Chapter 29, where she explains how one of her may visions led her to the Via Unitiva, one of the three Renaissance Catholic communions that extreme Catholics such as Theresa, and San Juan de la Cruz, to cite another example, would engage into to ultimately meet with God. In her writings, Teresa said that, to her left side, she saw an angel that, out of nowhere came and stabbed her with a spear that..

was so severe that it made me utter several moans. The sweetness caused by this intense pain is so extreme that one cannot possibly wish it to cease, nor is one’s soul then content with anything but God..

These seemingly extreme ways were common in 16th century Spain. Bernini wanted to recreate the feeling of the Counterreformation (1545-1563), when the revival of the Catholic tradition was in full bloom after the Reformation attempted to vanish it. Hence, all the pomp and circumstance of the Catholic dynamics would be expressed tenfold in art. Using marble, gilt bronze (for the rays of the apparition), and stucco, Bernini was able to successfully bring out the folding of Teresa's cloth and veil, and he was even able to chisel out of the face of the wait what is described by many as an expression no different than that of a sexual moan. This is not perceived, however, in the pornographic sense, but in the manner in which the sexual act occurs: two people (her and God) becoming one new specimen.

Skillful in Architecture and theatre, Bernini wanted to bring out the full effect by placing his sculpture on beams so that it looks like it floats in the air. Moreover, the window above from where the sculpture would be placed in the Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome would make the bronze beams shine directly above the sculpture, making it look ethereal The Cornaro family were the sponsors of this gorgeous work of art from 1647–1652.

Michelangelo 'Caravaggio' Merisi's Crocifissione di san Pietro (1601) was a paid commission in clarioscuro, whose technique sets a black backdrop that contrasts with the main picture. It met terrible criticism. The value of the painting centers on the founder of the Catholic Church, Simon Peter, who asks to be crucified upside down when his turn comes, after he had denied Jesus three times prior to J's death. Undermining the poignancy of the event, Caravaggio eliminates any indication of sainthood, holiness or spirituality and, instead, presents us with a regular man with dirty soles, and with characters with no definite sublime expression. As part of the Counter Reformation, this would have been considered sacrilegious for its lack of "respect" to what the painting is supposed to represent and Caravaggio did suffer consequences for it. This work followed Conversion of Paul and it is located in Santa Maria del Popolo, Rome. It is a great example of Baroque art, for it expresses (like in St. Theresa) true, human emotion and accentuates in the pathos of the moment. 

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