Of marble and of canvas
Christ died in the tomb and three sorrows of Andrea Mantegna, Tempera on canvas, 1470-1474, cm68x81, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan.
Veiled Christ, Giuseppe Sanmartino, marble statue, 1753, cm180x80x50, Cappella Sansevero, Naples.
Marble is the element that unites these two absolute masterpieces. On the one hand, the plan of support on which the Christ of Mantegna is placed is a cold, sepulchral table on which the sacrifice reaches its epilogue. It is nevertheless so earthly that it does not allow us to imagine the uniqueness of the spiritual value of the Resurrection. While the warm wood of the cross has held back the blood, the sweat and the atrocious suffering of the agony almost as if it did not want to reject it to become itself a symbol, on the other the stone of the anoint welcomes and fixes the eternity of a message that passes through matter and becomes history.
But this same matter, in Sammartino's work, takes on dynamism, softness, transparency ... This time the stone becomes flesh, stripping itself of the hardness that Mantegna can describe with clarity, giving the same body of Christ a cold consistency. Paradoxically, with the brush it is possible to make the stiffness of a hard material; instead the chisel makes the fugacity of something that would soon lose shape, volume, color. And the sculptor manages it with an almost alchemical extraordinaryness.
Both examples are certainly born from the fusion between technical magic and exceptional yield of humanity and spirituality, inevitably producing perfection within an artistic language.
Di Feliciano Marotta
For more information: