Museo Cappella Sansevero, Naples

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.

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).

Works of art

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.

The ceiling, the Glory of Paradise, was painted by Francesco Maria Russo in 1749. The original floor (most of the present one dates from 1901) was in black and white (said to symbolize good/evil) in the design of a labyrinth (a masonic symbol for "initiation")

In the basement, there is a painting by the Roman artist Giuseppe Pesce, Madonna con Bambino, dating from around 1750. It was painted using wax-based paints of Raimondo di Sangro's own invention. The prince presented this painting to his friend Charles Bourbon, king of Naples.

Anatomical exhibits

The chapel also displays two early examples of what was long thought to be a form of plastination in its basement. These "anatomical machines" (macchine anatomiche) were thought to be examples of the process of "human metallization" (metallizzazione umana) as implemented by anatomist Giuseppe Salerno ca. 1760 from a commission by Raimondo di Sangro. The exhibit consists of a mature male and a pregnant woman. Their skeletons are encased in hardened arteries and veins which are colored red and blue respectively.

This text is based on a Wikipedia article written by contributors under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.

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  Via Francesco de Sanctis, 19/21, 80134 Napoli NA, Italy
 +39 081 552 4936
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9:00 AM – 6:30 PM
9:00 AM – 6:30 PM
9:00 AM – 6:30 PM
Recommended duration
1 hour to 1 hour
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