THE FRESCOES IN THE CHAPEL OF THE TREASURY
The troubled story of the frescoes of the Treasury Chapel has been reconstructed through the documents at the Historical Archives. It is a long string of events made up of painters who did not respect their contracts, of violence and intimidations, of jealousies and unfair competition. The story begins with the first contract signed by Giuseppe Cesare, a painter known as “the Knight of Arpino”, who was initially identified by the Treasury Council as the ideal candidate to paint the frescoes in the chapel.
5.35 ducats to Cesare Siniscalco for expenses in the Deputation of the Chapel of San Gennaro in stipulating the contract made with Knight Giuseppe Cesare for painting the above-mentioned Chapel.
For other work commitments and for the difficult environment he worked in, the Knight d’Arpino neglected this Neapolitan workshop, causing the ire of the Treasury Deputies. It was decided that the contract should be revoked and the funds which had been deposited for him should be taken back.
2 ducats and 70 grana to Giovan Domenico Pansa, courier, for his service in traveling to Arpino to demand payment from the Marquess of Corleto to the Knight Gioseppe Cesare for the sale of his things in restitution of the six hundred ducats received for being named in the contract regarding the Chapel of San Gennaro, for painting which was never completed. February 14, 1620.
At this point, the choice was made to call upon Guido Reni, a painter from the Emilia Region. In the view of the Treasury deputies, the young artist seemed to be right choice to complete such an huge job with a guaranteed level of quality. Upon his arrival, Guido Reni sent the other painters in the Neapolitan school into fits of jealousy; in particular, Belisario Corenzio, who, along with the others, blocked the work on the project. The Controversy broke out into a clamorous violent act. One of Reni’s assistants lost his life in an attack ordered by the Corenzio’s henchmen.
Criminal trial against Giovan Domenico Capuano, plasterer in the trial concerning the beating Guido Rino the painter’s men were subjected to, in demonstration of the fact that the aforementioned Giovan Domenico is under investigation for murder and other crimes for which the deputies of the Chapel of San Gennaro bring a civil action. September 23, 1621
Following that event, Guido Reni decided to abandon Naples. The search for a new painter was begun again. Santafede, Gessi and Battistello Caracciolo were contacted, with no luck. Although he had been overlooked, the final choice fell upon a painter from Bologna; Dominichino.
787 ducats, 50 to Domenico Zamperi, painter, for the Scenes from the Life of San Gennaro in the right-hand corner of the main altar consisting of seven and a half figures at 105 ducats each. October 26, 1635.
Despite the excellent results achieved by Domenichino, fate intervened between the assignment of the job and the completion of the work. In 1641, in fact, the artist who had been chosen to complete the work died before it was finished. In the end, Giovanni Lanfranco completed the frescoes in the Chapel, effectively ending the decades-long story of competition and jealousies that infected the artistic scene in Naples.
300 ducats to the Knight Giovanni Lanfranco as an advance for the completion of a fresco which he will paint in the Chapel of the Treasury depicting the Glorious San Gennaro. January 15, 1643.