Placed over the “small door” of the temple, the Portrait of Vincenzo di Sangro was long mistakenly considered to be an image of Prince Raimondo. Sources and documents leave no doubt as to the fact that the painting, work of the Sorrentine Carlo Amalfi, actually depicts Raimondo’s eldest son, born in 1743. If it is known that the urn and decorative context of the portrait were made before 1766, it is less certain when the portrait itself was painted, and a number of critics hypothesise the mid-seventies. Stolen during the restoration work of 1990, the painting was recovered in the July of 1991 and returned to its place.
With this oil on copper, Amalfi, who had already painted the Portrait of Raimondo di Sangro, proved himself an able portrait artist. It is a three-quarter length portrait, showing Vincenzo in riding coat and wig. The red watered silk sash, that crosses over from his right shoulder to his left side, could be that of the Knights of the Order of San Gennaro (which would mean a date after 1776, the year when the eighth Prince of Sansevero was admitted to the prestigious equestrian order). To the left of Vincenzo are a number of books on which is resting a helmet, symbols clearly intended to exalt the culture and the warlike virtues of the Prince.
The painting rests on a coffin and seems to be held up by three putti, while two others raise an enormous stucco mantle that makes up the background. There is no commemorative inscription. Vincenzo di Sangro married Gaetana Mirelli di Teora in 1765, was Gentleman of the Chamber from 1772 and – as we have already stated – Knight of the Order of San Gennaro. He had a brilliant military career, becoming Commodore of the Royal Navy. Universal heir to the family wealth, he did not complete the work on the Chapel which was still not finished when Raimondo died, probably because of economic difficulties.
Even though the Description of the City of Naples by Giuseppe Sigismondo (1789) correctly identifies the subject of the portrait as Prince Vincenzo, throughout the nineteenth century most people thought it depicted Raimondo di Sangro. For this reason many prints were taken from this painting, showing the seventh Prince of Sansevero.