Naples, Ludovico Mazzanti's Baroque frescoes in Marigliano collegiate church at risk

One of the major works of Ludovico Mazzanti, a fine Baroque artist, is in danger of being lost in Naples: these are the frescoes painted in the Collegiate Church of Marigliano, which are threatened by water infiltration caused by rain.

One of the most interesting Baroque churches in the province of Naples is threatened by rain: infiltration of water is in fact threatening the frescoes painted in 1738 by Ludovico Mazzanti (Rome, 1686 - Viterbo, 1775) in the dome of the Collegiate Church of Santa Maria delle Grazie in Marigliano, between Nola and Pomigliano d’Arco. Reporting the problem is the Pro Borgo Committee for the Protection of Campania’s Cultural Heritage, according to which neglect and seepage are damaging Mazzanti’s masterpiece, but not only that: the water, in fact, threatens the stability of the architectural structure itself. The water is not only coming down from the skylight lantern but has also crept between the cracks and crevices of the drum and between the 18th-century majolica tiles of the exquisite exterior covering of the canopy. Everything is in danger of being lost forever, according to the committee.

The frescoes are an important testament to Mazzanti’s work in the Terra di Lavoro: the Roman artist was called to Marigliano, around March 1738, to execute a complex cycle of frescoes and canvases in the city’s cathedral, commissioned by the municipality and the Mastrilli dukes, feudal lords of the area.

In the Collegiate Church, Mazzanti painted a group of saints looking out from a balustrade silhouetted against a deep blue sky, like nobles from a box at a theater: however, the frescoes already appear covered with green moss. Stains of black mold are found in other areas of the intrados, along with blanching, sulfation, exfoliation, and detachment. In danger is the entire mural cycle, which represents one of the most luminous texts of the painter, who was among the most quoted and significant in the Roman milieu, where Gaulli’s Baroque and Maratta’s classicism happily coexisted.

To halt the deterioration, the Ministry of Culture announced in the recent program of public works a protection intervention, which, however, can begin only from 2022. About 200 thousand euros have been allocated, which should be used, according to the plan drawn up by the Budget Department, for the restoration of the dome and the first section of the transept.

“The news of the investment by the MiC is extremely positive,” says the president of the Pro Borgo Committee, Luigi Monda, “but there is a need for further effort: action must be taken urgently and resources must already be made available, setting times and ways of use. Infiltration and humidity are unfortunately increasing and the deterioration of the paintings is very worrying. The dome of the Collegiate Church of Marigliano is a fragile and precious organism, certainly not waiting for the slow times of bureaucracy. Franceschini should give a strong and decisive signal.”

For Naples, however, this would be nothing new: much of the ecclesiastical heritage of the Campania capital and its immediate surroundings is unfortunately in a state of heavy decay, and reports of collapses and subsidence are the order of the day. Only recently, part of the floor in the church of the Incurabili collapsed, the church of the Rosariello had a partial collapse of the facade, and in the church of San Nicola alla Carità there are fears for the ceiling.

Naples, Ludovico Mazzanti's Baroque frescoes in Marigliano collegiate church at risk
Naples, Ludovico Mazzanti's Baroque frescoes in Marigliano collegiate church at risk

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