Д’АТТАНАЗИО МАРКО (Управление археологии, изобразительного искусства и ландшафта в провинциях Фрозиноне, Латина и Риети, Италия). Капелла Рождества церкви Санта Мария деи Мартири в Мараноле. Придворный патронаж в Южном Лации

MARCO D’ATTANASIO (Superintendence of Archeology, Fine Arts and Landscape for the provinces of Frosinone, Latina and Rieti, Italy). The Nativity Chapel in the Church of Santa Maria dei Martiri in Maranola. Court Patronage in Southern Latium

In Maranola, a small village in Southern Latium, there is the Church of Santa Maria dei Martiri; the church is famous in the neighbourhood because inside there is the so called Nativity Chapel, very important for the strong worship of the villagers and its aesthetic charm.

The aim of this study is to retrace the architectural and artistic history of the sacellum, trying at the same time to identify the patron of the art commission.

Despite the fact that the sacellum was realized in modern age, it is very difficult to obtain sure results, because there is a big lack of documentation. The restoration works – now in progress – give everyday new important information, sometimes, modifying the data previously acquired.

The sacellum has a rectangular plan, at about half of its height it is divided horizontally by a barrel vault that simulate a cave; the two floors are connected by stairs on the left.

In the cross vault of the upper level there are painted the four Evangelists with their symbols. Everyone has a scroll with verses of the Bible alluding to the Birth of Christ.

In the lower level of the chapel are recognizable two pictorial layers in which a fragmentary Nativity is visible. During the restoration, a fresco in which is possible to recognize the episode of the Slaughter of the Innocents has come to light again. It is possible to date these paintings at the beginning of the 16th century because they are stylistic close to the manner of Cristoforo Scacco, a painter well known in Southern Latium at the very same time.

The decoration of the chapel is completed by a crèche with twenty-seven terracotta sculptures.

In the lower floor of the chapel there are: baby Jesus, The Holy Virgin, St. Joseph, the ox and the donkey and two Prophets: king David and Malachi.

In the upper floor there are the Three Magi, the Annunciating Angel, two shepherds and many animals like, sheeps, goats and dogs.

These sculptures are the original group made at the same time of the decoration paintings, in the following centuries other figures were added.

The crèche is stylistic close to the Neapolitan sculpture of the end of the 15th century-beginning of the 16th.

It is well known that Naples is the town of “Presepio”, a lot of chapels in the 15th century held Nativity scene but most of them are lost or no more in their context, so the Presepio of Maranola is a rare case in the Kingdom of Naples of a Nativity scene preserved in his context, and maybe the oldest.

Focusing on the search of the patronage of both decorations of the chapel – painting and sculpture – it is important to retrace the history of Maranola at the end of the 15th century-beginning of the 16th.

At that time, the village was part of the Countship of Fondi and a fief of the Caetani family; even if there are no documents, it seems possible that the commision of the Nativity Chapel is to be reffered to Caterina Pignatelli, the wife of Onorato II Caetani dead in 1491. With this patronage, she wanted to underline her power over the feud of Maranola against the Colonna family.

In fact, the Colonna family conquered the whole Countship of Fondi with the exception of Maranola who was inherited by Caterina until the term of her life. Caterina used her artistic patronage to confirm her power and her possession of the little village.

Maranola, Renaissance art, sculpture, painting, Nativity scene, Neapolitan Kingdom, court patronage, restoration, Latium

Маранола, искусство Возрождения, скульптура, живопись, сцена Рождества, Неаполитанское королевство, придворный патронаж, реставрация, Лацио