The Church of Monteoliveto in Naples was built starting from 1411 with funding from Gurello Origlia of the court of Ladislao di Durazzo. Largely protected by the Aragonese kings and seat of the Olivetan order, it still retains its fifteenth-century rigor both in its exterior and interior enriched by refined noble chapels. In the small but bright cubic room of the Terranova chapel, the tomb of Marino Curiale stands out, created by Benedetto da Maiano (1489), a very high example of Renaissance sculpture.
A prominent figure and skilled modeler in the sixteenth century, in 1532 Giovanni da Nola created the Ligorio Altar in an elaborate architectural frame with the Virgin and Child and the infant Saint John in the centre.
The sacristy with grotesques and allegories of Virtue is frescoed by Giorgio Vasari (1544-1545), who came from Rome with his entourage of painters updated to the modern manner of Raphael and Michelangelo, creating an extraordinary synthesis of early sixteenth-century pictorial experiences.
SANT’ANNA DEI LOMBARDI
The church is also known by the name of Sant’Anna dei Lombardi from the name of the Confraternity which in 1798 obtained the concession of the convent after the devastating fire that destroyed their church.
Three canvases by Caravaggio burned in the fire, well documented and described by sources, but irretrievably lost
COMPIANTO DI CRISTO MORTO
In 1492 Guido Mazzoni sculpted the “Compianto di Cristo Morto” at the invitation of Eleonora of Aragon, sister of Alfonso II and wife of Ercole d’Este, with whom the Modena artist worked. Following the example of the production of Niccolò dell’Arca (in the figures in Santa Maria della Vita in Bologna), the eight life-size terracotta statues insist on the dramatic tones of the gestures and faces, on which perhaps the features of the Aragonese royals can be seen .
Giorgio Vasari, the sixteenth-century biographer, writes that the king had “great veneration” for the sculptor, having him portray him as Joseph of Arimathea on his knees who “truly seems more than alive”.
The naturalistic effect, the mimesis of reality and the expression of feeling must have been even more accentuated by the polychromy of the statues, whose pigments have been lost over time.