Art makes life meaningful and helps us better understand our world. It is an essential part of human culture, although everyone understands it in a different individual way. It helps us become more aware of our emotions, raises our self-awareness, and allows us to be open to new ideas and experiences.
One of the most mysterious and, at the same time, unique works of art ever created are the sculptures that hide their perfection under a veil. Admirable is the fact that they are made of marble, and the images look as if the figures are under a thin veil. These figures are the embodiment of true perfection and mastery of many of their authors. Today we want to continue our column on veiled statues, introducing you to the next work of art, which still raises questions and amazes the audience – the veiled statue Chastity by Antonio Corradini.
Antonio Corradini is best known for his illusory works of sculpted women covered under a veil, in which he perfectly models the details and
contours of human faces and bodies. Born in Venice, Italy, the artist spent part of his life traveling and exploring Europe, while working on various projects. Later he remained mainly in Venice but spent some time in Vienna and Naples before his death.
Corradini’s interest in veiled human forms spans much of his career. His statues often depict female bodies and faces. At the beginning of his work, highly draped figures can be seen, and later they move to a thinner, translucent layer of marble, in the form of a veil. His mastery is seen in the skillful representation of seemingly weightless tissue on human flesh. Chastity, also called Modesty, or Veiled truth, is a sculpture completed in 1752 during the Rococo period. This statue is the latest in a series of veiled nude female models he has sculpted throughout his career.
Chastity is one of the masterpieces of the Venetian sculptor. The statue was created for the Neapolitan chapel of Sansevero in Naples. The iconography of the chapel comes from the esoteric fantasy of Raimondo di Sangro,
the seventh prince of Sansevero, an alchemist and intellectual of the Enlightenment. He commissioned the sculpture of Antonio Corradini as a dedication to his mother. He wanted this memory to depict her untimely death when he was only one year old.
Di Sangro planned to renovate his family’s chapel to celebrate the valor, virtue, and aristocratic status of his family. He also used the place to convey his secret message through works of art that still evoke a wide range of interpretations. The three most important works in the chapel are Giuseppe Sanmartino’s The Veiled Christ, Francesco Cairolo’s Liberation from Deception, and, of course, Corradini’s Chastity.
To give human qualities and more vitality to his work, Corradini created the sculpture with a weight on one leg while the other was slightly raised. This movement is also evident in the drapery, which falls on the whole body of the figure. Her face looks away from the audience, covering her
through the heavy drapery. The cracked plate illustrates her short life. The veil that covers the body of the sculpture is sculpted with extreme attention to detail. In it lies the pain of an orphan, as well as, his personal secrets that we may never discover.
Chastity is one of the two sculptures completed by Corradini for the chapel of Sansevero, and both are part of a series of ten statues of the Virtues. The veiled female figure symbolizes modesty, but can also be considered a representation of wisdom. There is a clear reference to the veiled figure of Isis in Sais, Egypt. It is said that there is a quote on the ancient sculpture that says “I am past, present and future”.
This is the story of one of the most interesting sculptures, which to this day raises some questions about the meaning behind the sculpted body. The secrets of Raimondo di Sangro will always remain with it, decorating the chapel of the Princes of Sansevero forever.