The Cloister of the Poor Clares in Naples: infinite Gothic and infinite Baroque
English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge once stated, “The principle of the Gothic architecture is infinity made imaginable”; we could add, then, that the foundation of Baroque architecture is imagination turned into infinity. In the words of art critic Giulio Carlo Argan, Baroque fills up the world with “evocative, splendid, enlightening images”.
Images such as the ones decorating the Cloister of the Poor Clares, part of the Saint Clare Monastery (Monastero di Santa Chiara) in Naples. Vegetable subjects, marine and rural landscapes, mythological and allegorical scenes, and masks from the Italian Commedia dell’arte stand out in the polychrome “riggiole” (typical majolica tiles) that decorate the benches, pillars, and skirting surrounding the wonderful garden: a powerful burst of Baroque in the original Gothic structure.
These images were created by Domenico Antonio Vaccaro in the first half of the 1700s, when he was hired for the complete renovation of the cloister –built in the first half of the 1300s – and monastery.
The cloister’s walkways also feature a cycle of 17th-century frescoes by an unknown author, with decorative elements combined with scenes from the Old Testament.
This must be the place where two infinities come together.