The Renaissance High Altar of Santa Maria la Nova in Naples

Italy is, of course, with all manner of beautiful liturgical art and one of my own favourite expressions of it is the use of inlaid, coloured marbles in decorative patterns. We have shown you examples of this before here but today i wished to share an example from what is now, regrettably, a deconsecrated Neopolitan church, that of Santa Maria la Nova. 

This particular church was at one time that associated with the Franciscans and the present building is the resuilt of reconstruction efforts that took place late in the sixteenth century.  The entire church is worth a look, and it will put one to mind of the churches one finds in Rome with its architectural and artistic richness, but it is the high altar designed by Cosimo Fanzago  -- one of the pre-eminent Neopolitan baroque artists -- which particularly caught my attention.  It was designed between 1632-1633.

The entire arrangement, including the steps, the altar rail and so forth, present a beautiful but subtle explosion of form and colour. 

Ensconced within the reredos of the altar is a beautiful icon if the Madonna and Child dated to the thirteenth century and done in a style which meshes both Byzantine and Latin influences in how it is depicted.  The icon came from the original gothic church that at one time stood on this location. 

A beautiful example of a Renaissance era Italian altar.

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