In remarkable testimony to the art of Francesco De Mura (Naples, 1696-1782), the painting represents a mature Raimondo di Sangro – proud, but at the same time good humoured. The red sash over his right shoulder, and the rich mantle that surrounds the figure, are insignia of the Order of Saint Januarius, a prestigious decoration conferred on the Prince in 1740. His magnificent armour recalls his military glory as Colonel of the Capitanata Regiment (from 1743) and protagonist of the valiant battle of Velletri. The blue and gold of the di Sangro coat of arms can be seen in the frill on the breastplate, which frames a lion’s head. The latter is also present in the portrait of Vincenzo, the Prince’s son, visible in the nave of the Sansevero Chapel.
The facial features and marks of social distinction of the person portrayed have led to undisputed acceptance of identification as Raimondo di Sangro – first suggested by Katia Fiorentino on the occasion of the exhibition Ritorno al Barocco. Da Caravaggio a Vanvitelli (catalogue by N. Spinosa [ed.], Naples 2009). Indeed, as recently pointed out by Giuseppe Porzio, the figure depicted shares with the other two better-known portraits of the Prince of Sansevero “the same broad and rounded forehead, the perfectly oval face, and the large and expressive eyes that stand out above all the other features, namely the strong nose, the thin and tight-lipped mouth, and the double chin. All three portraits transmit great dignity that is at the same time agreeable” (Antichi maestri a Napoli. Dipinti del Sei e Settecento, G. Porzio [ed.], Naples 2019).
The vigour with which the artist renders the drapery, together with the radiant hues of the palette, make this oil on canvas, acquired by the Museum in 2019 and displayed in the sacristy from 2020, “one of the peaks of elegance and refinement of form” (again Porzio) in the portraiture of De Mura, described by Bernardo De Dominici, his contemporary, as “most singular in this art”.