BERNINI, Gian Lorenzo
(b. 1598, Napoli, d. 1680, Roma)
The Ecstasy of Saint Therese (detail)1647-52
Cappella Cornaro, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome
With half-closed eyes and a half-open mouth, the Saint sinks in a trance. A shudder seems to pass through her cloud-borne body, and beneath the crushing folds of the cloak her hand and foot hang down limply. The similarity between this mystical ecstasy and the ecstasy of profane love has often been pointed out; but the connection is literally made in the Saint's own account of her vision, which Bernini followed closely. Windows concealed in a little dome diffuse a golden light down the gilt bronze rays and over the Saint and angel, enhancing the supernatural atmosphere of the vision.