Cappella Sansevero - Christ Veiled under a Shroud
The Cappella Sansevero (also known as the Cappella Sansevero de' Sangri or Pietatella) is a chapel located ...
The Cappella Sansevero (also known as the Cappella Sansevero de' Sangri or Pietatella) is a chapel located on Via Francesco de Sanctis 19, just northwest of the church of San Domenico Maggiore, in the historic center of Naples, Italy. The chapel is more properly named the Chapel of Santa Maria della Pietà. It contains works of Rococo art by some of the leading Italian artists of the 18th century.
The chapel houses almost thirty works of art, among which are three particular sculptures of note. These marble statues are emblematic of the love of decoration in the Rococo period and their depiction of translucent veils and a fisherman's net represent remarkable artistic achievement. The Veiled Truth (Pudicizia, also called Modesty or Chastity) was completed by Antonio Corradini in 1752 as a tomb monument dedicated to Cecilia Gaetani dell'Aquila d'Aragona, mother of Raimondo. The 1753 Christ Veiled under a Shroud (also called Veiled Christ), by Giuseppe Sanmartino, shows the influence of the veiled Modesty. The Release from Deception (Disinganno) completed in 1753–54 by Francesco Queirolo of Genoa serves as a monument to Raimondo's father.
Veiled Christ is considered one of the world's most remarkable sculptures, and legendarily thought to have been created by alchemy. Sculptor Antonio Canova, who tried to acquire the work, declared that he would willingly give up ten years of his life to produce a similar masterpiece.
Over the centuries, the masterly depiction of the veil has acquired a legend, in which the original commissioner of the sculpture, the famous scientist and alchemist Raimondo di Sangro, teaches the sculptor how to transform cloth into crystalline marble. Over the years many visitors to the Cappella, amazed by the veiled sculpture, erroneously believed it to be the result of an alchemical "marblification" performed by the prince. He was said to have laid a real veil on the sculpture, and to have transformed this veil into marble, over time, by means of a chemical process
In reality, a close analysis leaves no doubt that the work was entirely produced in marble. This is also confirmed by some letters written at the time of its production. A receipt of payment to Sanmartino, dated 16 December 1752 and signed by the prince, is preserved in the Historical archive of the Bank of Naples and states.
And you will pay the aforementioned fifty ducats to the Magnificent Giuseppe Sanmartino on my behalf, for the statue of Our Lord in death covered by a veil also of marble. In other letters, di Sangro also states that the veil was produced from the same block of stone as the statue.