We can work on write about two artworks from the periods we read about in Unit VII: Renaissance, Baroque, Impressionist, or Post-Impressionist periods.

Baroque Period Works of Art

For this assignment, I took a virtual tour of Wallace Collectionin London and Cornaro Chapel in Italy, viewing the Laughing Cavalier and the Ecstasy of Saint Teresarespectively. The two works of art are ideal for this project, as they contained the important attributes of the Baroque, a significant evolution in the history of art. Again, the virtual tour eliminated the nuisances of actual site visit coupled with the need for resources, time and money.







Title:                         Laughing Cavalier

Artist:                       Frans Hals

Dimensions             83 cm × 67.3 cm (33 in × 26.5 in)

Medium:                  Oil on canvas

Museum:                  Wallace Collection

Year:                         1624

Features. The Laughing Cavalier stares at the audience. His upward-facing moustache, shiny nose, pink cheeks, pointy beard, and a hat accord the artwork a virtually insufferable vivacity. Coupled with these features is a white ruff and a drape of velvet that make him a half silk man.

Artist’s Role. The piece depicts Hals’ representational role where he conveys the real world in a work of art. Through this painting, he highlights a fantastic underside of his art through a man who has been made visible by paint. Instead of hinting at the modern impressionist truth, the brush strokes in the painting contribute to the mechanics of illusion.

Artist’s Message. The subject is not laughing but exhibits an enigmatic smile, which is accentuated by the upturned moustache. The intention here is to portray swagger along with a sense of jesting. Akin to other assemblage portraits of this era, the Laughing Cavalier has been completed out of something that seems inanimate. As Powell (2016) observes, the joke that he shares with the artist leaves the audience charmed even when they are slightly disconcerted, with the feeling that the painting is laughing at them. In the end, a sense of laughter amid a haste of brushstrokes reminds the audience to make the best out of life’s challenges.

Cultural Significance and Historical Elements. As a hallmark of the Dutch Golden Age Master, the Laughing Cavalier is a manifestation of a spontaneous style of portraiture. Eliminating the smooth classic art surfaces with brushstrokes that culminate in reality, this painting was later to serve as antidote to the impressionist artists.

Title: Ecstasy of Saint Teresa

Artist: Gian Lorenzo Bernini

Medium: White Marble, Bronze

Date: 1652

Dimension: Height (11 feet, 6 inches)

Location: Cornaro Chapel, Santa Maria della Vittoria, Rome

Features. The portrait depicts a cupid-like angel clenching an arrow. His little stature and delicate touch accord him a moment of grace. With her eyes closed and head facing the back, Teresa collapses as if she has been overwhelmed by the feeling of God’s might. Subsequently, her physical body dematerializes under the overbearing drapery of her robe. The scene is energized by the twisting folds of garment while the bronze rays emanating from an unknown source deliver the divine light.

Artist’s Role: Through this work, Bernini sought to carry on the elements of eroticism. He impulses a subject that other artists were shy to underscore. The beautiful, bear-chested young angel who uncovers Teresa’s dress ready to penetrate her with an arrow forcing her to throw her head backwards in ecstasy describes boldness on a delicate theme.

Artist’s Message: The aesthetic and spiritual significance of the work is only possible through the examination of larger context of the chapel. In fact, the work is not independent but the center of a more interconnected composition that not only presents a sculpture but a painting and architecture. According to Eire(2018), the dark, patterned columns of marble represent a complex niche to enhance dynamism and brightness of the scene whilst showing that opening of the wall is a vision to Teresa. In a way, the audience is introduced to a vision within a vision, one that the artist has coined for those who visit the altar and another for the Cornaro fraternity.

Cultural Significance and Historical Elements. As Baroque artist, Bernini strives to involve the view, which was the history of this period. He describes the experiences of Teresa in a physical and spiritual manner. The first noticeable thing through a walk into the chapel is the Ecstasy of Saint Teresa and alongside it are figures seated on boxes. Appearing to be talking to each other, these figures are witnessing a memorable cultural moment: being visited by an angel. This work creates an illusion of architecture that makes the audience part of the art, a typical attribute of the Baroque epoch.

Altogether, the Laughing Cavalier and Ecstasy of Teresaindicate the improvements in artwork through their well framed themes. The boldness of the subjects embodies issues that traverse history and culture. All the same, the two pieces of art represent human correspondence through inanimate mediums.



Eire, C. M. (2018). Ecstasy as Polemic: Mysticism and the Catholic Reformation. Irish      Theological Quarterly83(1), 3-23.

Powell, N. (2016). Laughing but not Cavalier Notes on the work and wit of Hans-Peter    Feldmann. Wall Street International.

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