Being used as exhibition space from 2007 to 2012, the 14th-century church of S. Maria Donnaregina is a prominent evidence of medieval times in Naples. In the 17th century, when the church of the same name overlooking piazza di Donnaregina was built, it was deconsecrated and closed to the public, as it was annexed to the cloister. Today the church – which since 1969 has been part of the Graduate course on monument restauration at the Faculty of Architecture of the Federico II University – can be visited during exhibitions and events organized by the Madre Museum, being used as an additional exhibition space, one of rare beauty and with a great evocative power.
The church belongs to an ancient convent complex founded by the Swabians in the XIII century, destroyed by the earthquake of 1293, and reconstructed and enlarged in 1325 by Queen Mary of Hungary, the wife of Charles II of Anjou. The building is preceded by a cloister characterized by a splendid lacunar executed in the early 16th century by a carver from Bergamo, Pietro Belverte. Designed by an anonymous Angevin architect – probably Lando di Pietro from Siena – the gothic church is designed, in compliance with the Franciscan system, as a simple hall with trusses, an apse with a pentagonal plan, ogival stained glass windows and a ribbed cross vault. It houses the splendid marble sepulchre of the magnanimous Queen, by Tino di Camaino and Gagliardo Primario (1325-26) as well as frescoes of paramount importance in the history 14th-century painting in Naples. The choir of the Clares – which, like the matronea and the palatine tribune, is an elevated space obtained from a tripartition of the hall – houses the largest cycle of 14th-century frescoes in Naples, attributed to Pietro Cavallini and Filippo Rusuti (1317-23 ca.). Moreover, it houses frescoes from the Loffredo Chapel, which haven’t been attributed nor dated as of yet.
From March 2012 to visit the church please contact “Scuola di specializzazione in Beni Architettonici e del Paesaggio, Facoltà di Architettura di Napoli, Ateneo Federico II”.
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