The Veiled Christ
One of the Giuseppe Sanmartino, 1753
of all time
Sanmartino’s Veiled Christ is one of the greatest sculptures of all time. Since the eighteenth century, travellers of all levels of distinction have come to contemplate this artistic miracle, to be disconcerted and enraptured by it. One of its innumerable admirers was Antonio Canova, who tried to buy it during his stay in Naples, and legend has it that he swore he would have given ten years of his life to have been the sculptor of this incomparable marble. Another example: in his travel memoirs the Marquis de Sade praised “the folds, the finesse of the veil […] the beauty, and the regularity of the overall proportions”. Matilde Serao wrote in great detail about the passion narrated by the features of the Christ, and Riccardo Muti chose the face of the Christ for the cover of his recording of the Mozart Requiem. The Argentine writer Hector Bianciotti spoke of his “Stendhal’s syndrome” at the sight of the marble veil, “folded, unfolded, reabsorbed into the cavities of an imprisoned voice, slight as gauze on the relief of the veins”. Recently, in an interview he gave for «Il Mattino», Adonis, one of the greatest contemporary poets, defined the Veiled Christ as “more beautiful than Michelangelo’s sculptures”.
The fame of the Veiled Christ is growing every day. A survey carried out during the seventeenth edition of the Galassia Gutenberg Book Fair (April 2006) raised it to the level of monument symbolising Naples. Lastly, in the spring of 2008, the Campania Regional Authority chose the photo of Sanmartino’s Christ for its publicity campaign aiming to give new impetus to the city’s image, severely damaged by the well-known refuse emergency.