Situated above the Tomb of the seventh Prince of Sansevero, the Portrait of Raimondo di Sangro is symmetrical to that of Vincenzo di Sangro which can be admired above the side entrance. The artist is Carlo Amalfi, but there is still some doubt about the date of execution. 1759, the year when the plaque beneath the picture was erected, seems possible, but it may well be later.
Compared with the portrait of Vincenzo, also by Amalfi, that of Raimondo shows greater realism and a more attentive study of physiognomy and psychology. As art historian Rosanna Cioffi points out, the subject has no attributes alluding to his nobility, his military valour or his scientific and literary output (attributes sculpted in marble on his Tomb). The Prince, an elderly man, seems to stare at the spectator with a proud gaze, protected by a simple breastplate.
The Portrait of Raimondo di Sangro is in a poor state of preservation, despite being the work of the same artist who portrayed Vincenzo using the same technique of oil on copper. This circumstance fuelled the popular imagination, whereby the image of the “accursed Prince” was destined to a sort of damnatio memoriae. In reality, it is likely that the painting is in particularly poor condition because of its location. Its setting is, in fact, beneath a small glass dome, which must have seen a lot of damage in the past, leaving the portrait exposed to the elements.
Before this oval, Amalfi had done at least one other portrait of di Sangro, from which Ferdinando Vacca made a famous eighteenth-century engraving, which has fortunately survived. In it, Sansevero appears younger, with the sash and cross of the Order of San Gennaro, to which he was admitted in 1740. The iconographic documentation regarding the Prince of Sansevero has recently been enriched by Francesco De Mura’s Portrait of Raimondo di Sangro, exhibited for the first time in 2009 on the occasion of the exhibition Ritorno al Barocco. Da Caravaggio a Vanvitelli. The work, which was acquired by the Sansevero Chapel Museum in 2019, is currently on show in the sacristy.