The Sansevero Chapel (also called the Church of Santa Maria della Pietà or Pietatella) is one of the most important museums in Naples. Located near the Piazza San Domenico Maggiore, this church, now deconsecrated, is adjacent to the family palace of the Sansevero princes, separated from this by an alley once surmounted by a suspension bridge that allowed family members to privately access the place of worship.
The chapel houses masterpieces such as the veiled Christ by Giuseppe Sanmartino, known throughout the world for its marble veil that almost reclines on the dead Christ, the Pudicizia by Antonio Corradini and the Disinganno by Francesco Queirolo, and it is a singular complex as a whole and full of meanings. It also hosts numerous other works of fine workmanship or unusual, such as anatomical machines, two totally uncluttered bodies where it is possible to observe, in a very detailed manner, the entire circulatory system.
Besides being conceived as a place of worship, the mausoleum is above all a Masonic temple full of symbologies, which reflects the genius and charisma of Raimondo di Sangro, seventh prince of Sansevero, commissioner and at the same time inventor of the eighteenth-century artistic apparatus of chapel.
The Cappella Sansevero is a concentrate of sculptural and pictorial works, and the first that you notice as soon as you enter the building is the fresco that adorns the ceiling, known as Gloria del Paradiso or the Paradiso dei Sangro, the work of the little-known painter Francesco Maria Russo who, as reported in the fresco itself, made it in 1749. It is striking, after two and a half centuries from the realization, the brilliance of the colors, also in this case due to the inventiveness of Raimondo di Sangro and his painting called «oloidrica».
The ceiling fresco ends, at the windows, with six monochrome medallions, in green, with the patron saints of the House: San Berardo di Teramo, San Berardo cardinal dei Marsi, Santa Filippa Mareri, San Oderisio, San Randisio and Santa Rosalia .
Below these, in correspondence of the arches of the six chapels closest to the altar, there are six marble medallions, the work of Francesco Queirolo, with the effigies of six cardinals originating from the Sangro family.
For the statuary, the Prince called the eighty-four Antonio Corradini, Venetian and Freemason, who managed to finish only the statues of Pudicizia (dedicated to the premature death of Prince Raimondo), the Decoro and the monument dedicated to Paolo di Sangro sixth prince of Sansevero, as well as leaving some sketches for other works. These include the veiled Christ, whose realization then passed to Giuseppe Sanmartino.