Wednesday, 23 June 2010

Weird Wednesday

Finally getting round to tidying my house up a bit, a few postcards I bought in Naples have come to light, buried under six months worth of discarded envelopes, neglected bills, Book Collectors, dead skin etc. Which is great because now I can show you 'Uomo' and 'Donna', two anatomical exhibits in the crypt of the Cappalla Sansevero, a gloriously baroque chapel built to attend to the supposed spiritual needs of a wealthy Neapolitan family back in the 16th century.

These two Frankenstein monsters were created in 1760 by an alchemist/natural philosopher (and possible occultist) named Guiseppe Salerno. According to the blurb in the chapel, they comprise the dissected bodies of a man and a woman, their bodily organs somehow preserved by a 'plasticisation' process, an unknown resinous fluid being injected into their veins, arteries and tissues. It was also stated that Salerno was excommunicated for his experiments.

According to the all-knowing Professor Wiki, though, who I consulted because I couldn't recall the anatomist's name, it was recently discovered that although the skeletons are genuine enough, the organs, veins etc are clever fakes, composed of beeswax, silk and other materials. For some reason the label writers at the Museo Capalla Sansevero couldn't be bothered to mention this. Ah well. This may have removed the spooky mystery of these gruesome creations but I reckon the skill and care that went into constructing them is still pretty impressive. I can assure you that even if I'd known they were made of wax and silk, they would still have creeped me out down in that crypt.

No comments:

Post a Comment