It is one of the most famous and evocative sculptures in the world for the expressive drama and for the particular workmanship of marble.
Sansevero Chapel is noble mausoleum which reflects the multi-faceted personality of its ingenious architect, Raimondo di Sangro
Raimondo di Sangro appointed a young Neapolitan artist, Giuseppe Sanmartino, to make “a life-sized marble statue, representing Our Lord Jesus Christ dead, and covered in a transparent shroud carved from the same block as the statue”.
Originally, the sculpture was to be made by Antonio Corradini who died in 1752 leaving a terracotta skeleton of Christ. The project was then entrusted to the artist Sanmartino who did not, however, take this sketch into account.
The greatness of the work is in the realization of the veil. Here is the drama and pathos of the moment. The marble veil, perfectly adherent to the shapes, reveals the sufferings of the crucifixion - through the folds of the veil you can see the signs of Christ's passion and martyrdom immediately. The torture tools, the crown of thorns, the pincers and the nails of the cross, are placed are at the foot of the Veil of Christ.
The torture tools are placed are at the foot of the Veil of Christ
Prince Sansevero said that the veil was "made with such art as to leave the most skilled observers astonished". In fact, it seems incredible that it is carved in marble from the same block as the image of Christ and at the same time it seems so natural. So the legend was born that the prince, known alchemist of the time, had taught the artist calcification of the fabric in marble crystals. Thanks to this method, the prince would then lay a veil over the sculpture that in time would then be placed in marble.