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Renaissance commemoration in Naples: the Rota Chapel in San Pietro a Maiella

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Renaissance society in Naples was characterized by a particular interest in issues of memory and oblivion. This brought about unusual aspects of the practice of commemoration, which have been disregarded by art historians. A study of the chapels of the Rota family in Renaissance Naples illuminates some of these peculiar manners. In addition to the chapel in the church of San Domenico Maggiore that still bears their name, the Rota had another hitherto unknown chapel in the neighbouring church of San Pietro a Maiella. It is the story of this chapel that contributes to a better understanding of the meaning of commemoration in Renaissance Naples.

The Rota chapel in San Pietro a Maiella was founded in the fourteenth century. By the end of the fifteenth century it was renovated by Antonio Rota, a humanist who held important posts at the Aragonese court. Antonio intended to make it the future mausoleum of his family. He restored the chapel's old monuments and commissioned an unusual conjugal cenotaph in memory of himself and his wife. Late he added a new altar and erected his own tomb there.

Antonio's children shifted their focus of attention to the church of San Domenico Maggiore, where they established a new family chapel. The main figure in this endeavour was the humanist poet Bernardino Rota who, in the spirit of the medieval translatio, transferred to the new site parts of the old Rota chapel, including his parents' cenotaph.
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Document Type: Original Article

Publication date: 01 June 2000

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