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Italia Napoli Cappella Sansevero4


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The Cappella Sansevero (also known as the Capella Sansevero de' Sangri or Pietatella) is a chapel located in the historic center of Naples. The chapel contains works of art by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century.
Its origin dates to 1590 when John Francesco di Sangro, Duke of Torremaggiore, after recovering from a serious illness, had a private chapel built in what were then the gardens of the nearby Sansevero family residence, the Palazzo Sansevero. The building was converted into a family burial chapel by Alessandro di Sangro in 1613 (as inscribed on the marble plinth over the entrance to the chapel). Definitive form was given to the chapel by Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero, who also included Masonic symbols in its reconstruction. Until 1888 a passageway connected the Sansevero palace with the chapel

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Italia Napoli Cappella Sansevero4

  1. 1. Piazza San Domenico Palazzo Sangro Cappella
  2. 2. Nested among a net of narrow alleys, this extraordinary 18th century chapel, also known as Cappella Sansevero de’ Sangro from the full name of the family owners, houses several art objects. Among these, in the center of the nave, there is a famous representation of a lying life-sized marble Christ covered with a shroud carved from the same block as the statue and as perfect and realistic that it looks transparent.  Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero and of Castelgrande, Peer of Spain, knight and Grand Master of the San Gennaro’s Knightly Order, man of high culture and most famous representative of the Casa de’ Sangro, was born in Italy in 1710. His extraordinary life, between fiction and reality, is celebrated in many works describing both myth and history of this exceptional man. The Sansevero Chapel is an extraordinary place of art and of science in the Neapolitan- 18th century’s setting. This location has been famous, up to today and possibly excessively, for its fascinating mysteries, its myths, and legend about the “Dark Prince,” its symbolism and for the striking “Anatomical machines” with similar legends. This fame overwhelmed the importance and the extraordinary beauty and morphology of its statues and frescoes. The most recent scientific findings gave light to the real nature of the “Anatomical machines” without undermining their appeal which remain immutable
  3. 3. The current appearance of the Sansevero Chapel corresponds to a very precise icono- graphic design, conceived by Prince Raimondo di Sangro and realised by the artists who worked under his supervision
  4. 4. The Veiled Christ, a world artistic masterpiece, was to have been – in the intention of the Prince – located in the Underground Chamber designed by di Sangro himself, in the Underground Chamber that was also to be have been used to house the future tombs of the Sansevero family, but which was never finished as the Prince envisaged it (the present appearance of the Chamber is the result of work completed after his death)
  5. 5. Placed at the centre of the nave of the Sansevero Chapel, the Veiled Christ is one of the most famous and impressive works of art in the world. It was the Prince’s wish that the statue be made by Antonio Corradini, who had already done Modesty for him. However, Corradini died in 1752 and only managed to make a terracotta scale model of the Christ, which is now preserved in the Museo di San Martino
  6. 6. So Raimondo di Sangro appointed a young Neapolitan artist, Giuseppe Sanmartino, to make “a life-sized marble statue, representing Our Lord Jesus Christ dead, and covered in a transparent shroud carved from the same block as the statue”
  7. 7. Giuseppe Sanmartino paid little heed to the previous scale model made by the Venetian sculptor. Both in Modesty, and in the Veiled Christ, the original stylistic message is in the veil, but Sanmartino’s late baroque feeling and sentiment permeate the shroud with a movement and a meaning far removed from Corradini’s rules
  8. 8. The modern sensitivity of the artist sculpts and divests the lifeless body of its flesh, which the soft shroud mercifully covers, on which the tormented, writhing rhythms of the folds of the veil engrave deep suffering, almost as if the compassionate covering made the poor limbs still more naked and exposed, and the lines of the tortured body even more inexorable and precise
  9. 9. The swollen vein still pulsating on the forehead, the wounds of the nails on the feet and on the thin hands, and the sunken side finally relaxed in the freedom of death are a sign of an intense search which has no time for preciosity or scholastic canons, even when the sculptor meticulously “embroiders” the edges of the shroud or focuses on the instruments of the Passion placed at the feet of Christ. Sanmartino’s art here becomes a dramatic evocation that turns the suffering of Christ into the symbol of the destiny and redemption of all humanity
  10. 10. Sanmartino’s  Veiled Christ is one of the greatest sculptures of all time. Since the eighteenth century, travellers of all levels of distinction have come to contemplate this artistic miracle, to be disconcerted and enraptured by it
  11. 11. One of its innumerable admirers was Antonio Canova, who tried to buy it during his stay in Naples, and legend has it that he swore he would have given ten years of his life to have been the sculptor of this incomparable marble
  12. 12. Raimondo di Sangro’s fame as an alchemist and daring experimentalist has spawned various legends about him. One of these regards the veil of Sanmartino’s Christ. For over two-hundred-and-fifty years, in fact, travellers, tourists and even a number of academics, incredulous at the transparency of the shroud, have mistakenly thought it the result of some alchemical process of “marblisation” worked by the Prince of Sansevero
  13. 13. The legend of the veil is slow to die, however. The aura of mystery that surrounds the Prince of Sansevero and the “liquid” transparency of the shroud continue to fuel it. For his part, it was di Sangro’s aim – on this and in other occasions – to inspire wonder. It is no coincidence that it was he himself who noticed that the marble veil was really impalpable and “made with such art as to leave the most skilled observers in awe”
  14. 14. Text & pictures: Internet All  copyrights  belong to their  respective owners Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu Sound: Claudio Monteverdi - Selva morale e spirituale: Pianto della Madonna, SV 288 2018