Naples and Campania, Day Nine 21 May 2008

| May 21, 2008
Mia Reinoso Genoni
(Photo by Helen and Fraser Muirhead.)

Moving outside the city walls, on Wednesday we started our day at the mid-14th-century Augustinian monastery of San Giovanni a Carbonara. The original site was home to many bloody tournaments, and the name “Carbonara” also reveals its earlier medieval identity as a town dump.

(Photo by Peter Goltra).

The church features numerous tombs, including the Monument to King Ladislao, located just behind the altar at the end of the nave.

(Top two photos by Peter Goltra.)
As these details show, the architectural idioms employed in this tomb are related to the political moment in which it was created. King Ladislao dies in 1414, leaving Joan II Anjou Durazzo as the shaky head of an Angevin kingdom threatened by a range of foes and “pretenders” to the crown. She commissions this tomb in 1428, dying herself in 1435 after having adopted Alfonso I. Because of the tenuous hold of the Angevins, the tomb is primarily constructed in a purposely retardataire way, to suggest connections to earlier Angevin monuments. As you can see in the first two details here, the upper levels of the tomb are medievalizing, reminding one of the portal of Sant’Eligio and the Tomb of Mary of Hungary in Santa Maria Donna Regina Vecchia. Here we see statues of Ladislao and Joan Enthroned, as well as Ladislao on horseback; as equestrian statues are not typical of funerary monuments in churches, it is clearly a statement of power. Fascinatingly, it is only in the lowest register, here pictured in the third detail, that we start to see a classicizing structure. It is a trabeated structure – a flat coffered vault – and harkens to the Temple of Mars Ultor in the Forum Augustus, as does the later Succorpo chapel in the Cathedral of Naples.
(Left photo by Helen and Frasier Muirhead.)

There are also two tombs in adjoining chapels that reveal the changing languages of and imagery employed in funerary monuments in Renaissance and Baroque Naples. Behind the altar is the circular Chapel of Caracciolo del Sole. It features the tomb of Sergianni Caracciolo (here on the left), who was Grand Senechal and Joan II’s lover. The tomb, created by Andrea da Firenze, dates to 1441. To the left of the altar is the 16th-century Chapel of Caracciolo di Vico, containing the Tomb of Galeazzo Caracciolo (here on the right).

(Left photo by Marilyn Schmitt.)

It was appropriate that we chose to visit San Giovanni a Carbonara today, as it was also the visit of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi. Fulfilling a campaign promise to hold his first cabinet meeting in Naples, he came to address the issue of garbage strike, so it was a very Carbonara day. On the left is a photo of the garbage outside our hotel, which miraculously disappeared right before his arrival, and on the right is one of the many posters of protest.

(Photo by Peter Goltra.)

Avoiding the protesters and the rain, we turned to Santissimi Apostoli, a splendid church reconstructed by Francesco Grimaldi starting in 1610, for Cardinal Ascanio Filomarino. At this time it became a Theatine structure, as is San Paolo Maggiore.

(Photo by Virginia Jansen.)

Of greatest interest in the church is the Filamarino Altar, created by Francesco Borromini for Cardinal Filamarino. The Cardinal had very strong ties to the court of Pope Urban VII, and wished to create an altar testifying to his Romanness. This altar is the only work by Borromini in Naples, and in many ways it was a trial run for his work in the Oratorio in Rome. He signed it in c. 1640.
Our final stop on a day filled with Berlusconi-induced detours was Santa Maria la Nova. It was originally built in 1279, created to house the Franciscan friars displaced by Charles of Anjou’s construction of the Castel Nuovo. In the 16th century it was completely remodeled. We were not allowed to take pictures of the interior, but many reproductions exist, primarily of the famous ceiling that contains 46 paintings, which in essence serve as examples of work by the most important Neapolitan school artists before Caravaggio’s arrival.

Leave a comment


SAH thanks The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation
for its operating support.
Society of Architectural Historians
1365 N. Astor Street
Chicago, Illinois 60610