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Museo Cappella Sansevero’s Veiled Christ

15 Mar

Some art is amazing, and then some is simply extraordinary. Such is the case with the  Veiled Christ sculpture in the Museo Cappella Sansevero in Napoli.

Between 1740-1770, the 7th prince of Sansevero, Raymond di Sagro, created the historic chapel that exists today.  He called on renowned artists around the world to build his family’s mausoleum, and at the same time, reflect his personality as a patron of the arts, inventor, publisher, man of letters, alchemist, and Grand Master of the Freemasons in the Kingdom of Naples.

The following description is taken from literature about Museo Cappella Sansevero:

Veiled Christ’s production was originally assigned to sculptor Antonio Coradini, however,  he died a short time later. The assignment thus passed to Giuseppe Sanmartino, who was charged with producing “a marble statue sculpted with the greatest realism, representing Our Lord Jesus Christ in death, covered by a transparent shroud carved from the same block of stone as the statue.” 

Sanmartino produced a work with the dead Christ laid on a couch, covered by a veil which adheres perfectly to his form. The mastery of the Neapolitan sculptor lies in his successful depiction of the suffering that Christ had undergone during the crucifixion through the veil, under which signs of his pain can be seen on his face and body.

At the sculpture’s feet, the artist also carved the instruments of his torture: the crown of thorns, pliers, and some shackles. 

Years ago as a student in Italy, I was able to get close to Michelangelo’s Pietà and David, and even photograph them. Such is not the case today in both Rome and Firenze. Yet in this “small” and private chapel, although photos are not permitted, one can get very close to the sculpture and marvel at its intricacies.

There are other incredible sculptures and paintings in the chapel, but mostly I found it hard to move from the Veiled Christ, a sculpture I had not even known existed. How did he do this? I kept wondering. How?

For me, this sculpture ranks right up there with both the Pietà and David. Exquisite, incredible, straordinaria!

Creative Commons

Creative Commons

Click on any of the photos to enlarge for more detail. Also, for additional information on this museum and treasures, click



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