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Cappella Sansevero Museum: Take the Veil


In the Sansevero chapel, ‘there is enough to make the artist proud, amuse the epicurean, and make the devoted tremble,' wrote Hippolyte Taine in his account ‘A Voyage in Italy'.

In the historic centre of Naples, the Cappella San Severo, still referred to as Chiesa di Santa Maria della Pieta, enshrines numerous masterpieces in the Neapolitan Baroque style. All were commissioned by an alchemist obsessed with the Enlightenment, Raimondo di Sangro, prince of San Severo, who quickly transformed his chapel into a masonic temple, and, in the crypt, made his infamous ‘anatomical machines' encased, mummified human cadavers.

Among the art pieces, two marble sculptures are curiously parallel to the skinless models in the crypt : the Cristo velato (Veiled Christ) by Guiseppe Sanmartino and Pudicizia (Modesty) by Antonio Corradini, the artist first commissioned for the veiled Christ who died after having completed only sketches.

The principle is identical for both : the marble veils, of an exquisite transparency, reveal and shape that which they were supposedly masking. Thus, the tortures of Christ and the pointed nipples of the modest woman seem all the more exposed.

Museo Cappella Sansevero
Via Francesco de Sanctis, 19/21
80134 Napoli

Tel : +39 (0)81 551 8470

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