The frescoed volt by Giorgio Vasari (mannerist painter, architect and renowned historiographer) is really what makes this space so well know. The Arezzo-based artist came to Naples in 1544, having been invited by the Order of the Olivetans to fresco their monastery’s Refectory, which would later be turned into a Sagresty. Vasari renovated the space by remodelling the medieval architecture that characterized the room, and, after having stuccoed the vaults, he decorated them with a cycle of paintings divided into three bays, each corresponding to a precise iconographic and didactics project. Through his skilled hands, the vault, decorated with grotesques, came to look like an extraordinary celestial sphere where 48 Ptolemaic constellations are depicted, alternating with personified virtues distributed around a central octagon, which clarifies each bays’ theme. The entrance vault is connected to the theme of Religion, the central one to the theme of Eternity and the third one to the theme of Faith. Vasari was a great admirer of Michelangelo and was surely inspired by his art in creating this little Sistine Chapel, right in the heart of Naples. The extraordinary frescoes in this Sagresty represent a valuable and rare testimony of renaissance harmony, in which wisdom and elegance blend perfectly. Together with the cycle of paintings, we also have other important elements in this space, which are the wood inlays by Fra’ Giovanni da Verona, an Olivetan monk notable for his skills as a sculptor, carver and in miniature paintings. The characters depicted represent different themes, always rendered with a very skilled use of perspective. The scenes obtain three-dimensionality thanks to the combination of different types of wood and to the usage of chiaroscuro. In urban settings, we can find buildings of different heights and, in the background, a portico or even a well defined landscape glimpse; the views feature, in some cases, animals of different species. The panels simulating false closets or shelves show, on occasion, semi-open shutters which invite the observer to peep inside.

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