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New Research on Art in Fifteenth-Century Naples / Nuove ricerche sull’arte del Quattrocento a Napoli




La Madonna del Cucito: un affresco nel contesto del presbiterio di Santa Chiara a Napoli 


The focus of this article is a fifteenth-century fresco of the Madonna del Cucito (the Virgin Mary Sewing) in the Neapolitan basilica of Santa Chiara, a work of the prolific local painter also responsible for the polyptych of San Pietro Martire. Long concealed by eighteenth-century marble revetment, the fresco was rediscovered during the restoration of Santa Chiara after the Second World War. Since then, what little critical attention the fresco has received has not adequately addressed its complex iconography. The present article offers for the first time a detailed reading of that iconographic program. Demonstrating the specifically eucharistic significance of the Madonna del Cucito, the article sets the fresco in the context of the pictorial elaboration of the theme of Corpus Domini in the area of the main altar of the Angevin foundation since the fourteenth century. The present study is also an occasion to reconsider and analyze what remains of an extensive, stylistically contemporary decorative program of which only unattributed fragments survive: these include frescoes of Sant’Antonio Abate, Cristo Eucaristico, and a lunette with the Madonna of Humility originally located to the right of the funerary monument of Robert of Anjou and lost in the fire that followed the bombing of the basilica of Santa Chiara in 1943.