Aleteia logoAleteia logoAleteia
Sunday 14 April |
Saint of the Day: St. Benezet
Aleteia logo
Art & Culture
separateurCreated with Sketch.

The Veiled Christ: a miracle of “transparent” marble

The Veiled Christ statue Sansevero Chapel Naples-Giuseppe Sammartino

ELIANO IMPERATO | Controluce via AFP

Daniel Esparza - published on 06/23/20 - updated on 03/26/24

One of the most remarkable sculptures in the world is also the stuff of legend.

The Cristo Velato (that is, the Veiled Christ) is a sculpture completed in 1753, originally (mis)attributed to Antonio Corradini and considered one of the world’s most remarkable pieces of art.

In fact, the great neoclassical maestro Antonio Canova, who tried to buy the work, said he would gladly give up 10 years of his life to produce such a masterpiece.

Although Corradini was in fact commissioned with the job in the first place, he died having only produced a clay model for what would later be a definitive piece sculpted in marble.

It was Giuseppe Sammartino, then, who ended up producing the astonishing sculpture of a dead Jesus, covered by a transparent shroud carved out of the very same marble block shared with the rest of the statue.

Sammartino’s mastery – the veil covering the figure of Jesus being in fact “transparent” — not only gained him a well-deserved place in the history of Western art, but also turned his artwork into the stuff of legend.

An alchemist-artist?

Some stories claim Sammartino covered his sculpture with a linen veil he managed to transform into marble by means of complex chemical-alchemical processes. Those very same legends would also claim that Raimondo di Sangro, the commissioner of the sculpture, was himself an alchemist who taught Sammartino the mysteries of his pseudo-science. Of course, these are but legends.

The statue is today preserved in the Capella Sansevero, in Naples, Italy.

Tags:
ArtCatholicismCultureReligious Statues
Enjoying your time on Aleteia?

Articles like these are sponsored free for every Catholic through the support of generous readers just like you.

Help us continue to bring the Gospel to people everywhere through uplifting Catholic news, stories, spirituality, and more.

Aleteia-Pilgrimage-300×250-1.png
Daily prayer
And today we celebrate...




Top 10
See More
Newsletter
Get Aleteia delivered to your inbox. Subscribe here.