Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Museo Cappella Sansevero, Naples

The Museo Cappella Sansevero is a small chapel museum in the center of Naples. It was first built as a tomb for the di Sangro family in the late 1500s. Prince Raimondo di Sangro had it redone in the Baroque style in the mid 1700s. It's now a popular sight for tourists and locals alike.

Museo Cappella Sansevero

They don't allow pictures inside but they do sell postcards, so I can show some of the highlights. The most famous piece is Cristo Velato or Veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753. The marble veil over Christ's dead body is so well done, it seems like a real veil that could be lifted away.

Cristo Velato, side view

Cristo Velato, top view

Antonio Corradino's sculpture Pudicizia or Modesty shows a veiled woman with a broken plaque behind her. The woman represents Prince Raimondo's mother Cecilia, who died eleven months after giving birth to him.

Pudicizia or Modesty by Antonio Corradino (1752)

Francesco Queirolo's sculpture Disinganno or Disillusion was inspired by Prince Raimondo's father, who had abandoned his son so he could travel and live a debauched life after the death of his wife. Later his father repented and became a priest, hoping to free himself from his sinful past as the man in the sculpture tries to escape the net.

Disinganno or Disillusion by Francesco Queirolo (1753-1754)

The ceiling has a fresco by Francesco Maria Russo of the Glory of Heaven.

Glory of Heaven by Francesco Maria Russo (1749)

The prince was also an alchemist and Grand Master of the Naples' Freemasons. Downstairs from the vaults is the Anatomical Machines by Guiseppe Salerno, which show the circulatory system of a man and a woman. No one knows if they are real arterial systems somehow preserved or they are a highly detailed reproduction. They were a bit gruesome-looking so we hurried the kids past and I did not buy a postcard of them.

The statues alone are worth the price of admission to the Museo Cappella Sansevero.

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