The treasure of Naples
Paolo Jorio, the Director of the museum of the treasure of St. Januarius, lead us in a time travel through the collection of incredible masterpieces donated by devotees. In 700 years it was formed a treasure composed by jewels, paintings, sculptures, statues, silver furniture and textiles.
Unique masterpieces to admire only in the museum
Invention, popular devotion, religiousness, showmanship: the exhibition of the museum of St.Januarius includes a route of masterpieces along seven centuries that actually it is possible to visit thanks to meritorious work of Deputation.
The reliquary of St. Januarius’ blood
Seven hundred years ago the King Roberto of Anjou wanted that the two cruets were put in a special reliquary. It is a special gold silver case used during public exhibitions. The baroque basis with a crown has in the middle one of the biggest emerald in the world. This precious reliquary is still used during the processions: the cruets with blood are put in the upper hole and held by a bayonet.
The necklace of St.Januarius
It was realized from 1676 to 1929 representing 250 years of European history as a result of kings, queens, noblemen and people devotion.
In 1679 the Deputation of the Royal Chapel of the treasure of St.Januarius commissioned to Neapolitan goldsmith Michele Dato the realization of a special ornament – composed by 13 gold links with diamonds, emeralds and rubies donated by the Deputation- for St. Januarius’ reliquary bust. Later, the Deputation considered it not enough precious and in different ages it has been enriched adding gifts from kings and queens that have reigned or have been hosted in Naples.
Among these there were Maria Amalia of Saxony, Carlo III of Bourbon, Maria Carolina of Habsburg, Francis I of Austria, Joseph Bonaparte, Maria Cristina of Savoy, Vittorio Emanuele II of Savoy that have changed the original necklace in a triumph of gold, diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires and other precious stones.
Also a commoner gave to St.Januarius her most precious object to thank of escaping the plague: two earrings handed down from her grandmother. The Deputation considered a noble gesture and the two earrings were put in the upper part of the necklace.
In 1929 Maria Josè of Belgium, the wife of Umberto II of Savoy, visited the Royal Chapel without special gift although it was used to offer something from European royal people when they visited the Saint. Maria Josè was embarrassed and took the gold with diamond ring off offering to the Deputation who decided to put it in the middle of the necklace, near the earrings of commoner.
The mitre adorned with jewels of St. Januarius
It is one of the most precious object in the world: 3694 precious stones, 198 emeralds, 168 rubies, 3.328 diamonds, 18 kilos.
The Deputation committed the realization to Matteo Treglia, Neapolitan goldsmith from goldsmith village (Borgo degli orefici) that with 50 other artists finished it in only one year. The result was wonderful: a great goldsmith embroidery realized by embedding technique and innovative precious stone cutting.
They used only three kinds of precious stones: emeralds to represent the knowledge; rubies to symbolize St. Januarius’ blood; diamonds that are the strongest stones allude to the faith.
This extraordinary masterpiece has also a special mechanics: some internal shock absorbers in order to amortize the strokes of transportation during public processions. It was used until 1931.
The necklace with pearls, gold and gems
The jewels were donated from Spera family and put together by the Deputation in order to realize this necklace with pearls, gold, silver and gems in 1706 to decorate the reliquary bust of the Saint during the procession.
Ten museum’s wonders
Before arriving in the hall of Ten wonders of the treasure of St. Januarius – that it is possible to admire only in the museum- there is a silver and Mediterranean coral cross (1706). Jesus Christ is represented with rare beauty, we can see his spasm in the veins, in the pain, in the death. It has a priceless value because it is the only example not lost.
Popes, kings and queens did not expense spared to honour worthily the Saint. One hall in the Museum of the treasure of St. Januarius shows the precious and important gifts of sovereigns. Going in the museum means to know some stories about each jewel and be impressed. Some examples:
The most important silver collection in the world
In the Seventeenth and Eighteenth centuries workshops, the art was handed down from father to son and often many years of apprenticeship were not enough to become silversmiths. Carlo II of Anjou in 1305 gave to Naples the reliquary bust of St. Januarius realized by Provençal silversmiths but he undertook to revitalize Neapolitan silversmith art.
The Provençal contribution determined a special change not only for Neapolitan and Southern but also for European silversmith art. In Naples the workshops developed and their production became so important. In 1347 the Queen Giovanna of Anjou allowed to silversmiths and goldsmiths to elect four craftsmen who could convene in assembly the members of Goldsmith’s Guild.
It was born the first Goldsmith’s Guild in the world in Naples, goldsmith village (Borgo degli orefici) with its statute in order to guarantee the quality of work and materials used.
Among many silver statues there are some special silver busts that represent patron saints and keep religious history of Neapolitan archdiocese.
54 busts and other silver works represent a unique testimony of Neapolitan silver and goldsmith art’s history.
Between 1600 and 1700 in Naples there were 350 laboratories: skilled workers organized in teams did specific part of each work, than they put together. So, the artist realized the sketch, the sculptor created the cast and the goldsmith worked metals.
Going up through a small and intriguing staircase, the route of the museum arrives in a wonderful place: the Sacristies of the Chapel, the Chapel of the Immaculate, the Anti-sacristy and Luca Giordano’s sacristy which have been closed to the public for over four centuries but finally accessible.
The Chapel of the Immaculate
The Chapel of the Immaculate has a typical baroque creativity, rich in fine marbles and stuccos. It has been frescoed from 1663 by Luca Giordano but he could not finish his work that was completed by Giacomo Farelli, one of his best pupils who put his own signature in the central image of the Immaculate Conception.
The cycle of frescoes unknots into a series of spaces outlined by one of the most extraordinary stucco’s decorations made in Naples in the seventeenth century. The ribs of the vaults are made of cherubs frontally placed, with their heads of bouffant and curly hair, rounded bodies, real masterpieces of the decorators Andrea Falcone and Giovan Battista d’Adamo. On the altar there is a painting on copper representing the Recovery of the Possessed Woman, made by Massimo Stanzione.
In the anti-sacristy stand out the frescoes of the vault made by the painters Francesco e Nicola Rossi in 1744. They use a typical technique like Neapolitan quadraturists. In this evocative anti-sacristy there is also a marble washbasin made by Francesco Valentino in 1615 that later has been enriched with a couple of dauphins drawn by the sculptor Dionisio Lazzari in 1668. The paintings on the wall were made by the Apulian painter Vincenzo Fato in 1742 and represent The Hydropic, The Resurrection of Lazarus, The Blind born and The Cananite.
The Sacristy by Luca Giordano
This Sacristy is completely covered with wood wardrobes drawn by Lazzari and made for the keeping of the Treasure and the liturgical apparatus. The decoration of the vault is rare and elegant in the white colour with stucco’s sinuous telamones was made by Andrea Falcone in 1668 culminating in the middle of the sacristy’s ceiling with a fresco by Luca Giordano in 1668 representing San Januarius where it stands the rare signature of the author. Jordano F. [Jordano fecit].