Friday, 6 November 2009


Bernini was the first sculptor to realise the dramatic potential of light in sculpture. This is fully realised in his famous masterpiece Ecstasy of Saint Teresa (1645-1652, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome), in which the sun's rays, coming from an unseen source, illuminate the saint and the smiling angel about to pierce her heart with a golden arrow.

I would argue that the expression of sublime ecstasy on Saint Therese’s beautiful face, has little to do with her heart. It has everything to do with a swooning orgasm induced by the smiling angel’s golden arrow. The images of her smile and the golden arrow, are simply metaphors for what is really going on.


  1. Some who have commented on this sculpture have suggested that Bernini, a follower of St Ignatious Loyola would never have intentially portrayed this as a sexualised image however it clearly is highly charged and full of other worldly ecstasy as the angel is about to penetrate her with his golden arow. I can imagine many a Victorian lady or indeed any ladies from from any era gazing at this and thinking I'll have a bit of what she's having please! I dare say it also did a huge amount for helping to recruit nuns into convents as it seems to say hey look you don't need a physical man to enjoy the sublime pleasure induced by religious faith! Get thee to a convent well I am booking my place in the line!

  2. Gorgeous. I'm salavating to make another trip to Europe - soon.

    Thanks for posting this. It's now on the list of must have to see. :-)

  3. The folds of "cloth" are just amazing, aren't they?

    I do find it terribly sad though that something as natural and wonderful as orgasm had to be disguised as something non-sexual in order to be acceptable to society.

  4. Thank you everyone, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Viscount, I didn't know about the Saint Ignatius bit.

    Neve, I'm so envious that you're going to see it.

    It is a sad thing, isn't it Janine? It's sad too, that it's only been the last 30 or 40 years, that we've known there was such a thing as orgasms for women -- let alone been able to talk about them.