© Jeff Matthews
entry Aug 2007
As far as I can determine, Pompeo Schiantarelli, was from Rome. There is an extant architectural sketch of his as part of a competition at the prestigious Accademia di San Luca Archivio Storico, an art academy that still exists. The sketch is from 1766; thus, we may conclude that he was a student there. (A reference may be found in I Disegni di Architettura dell'Archivio Storico dell’ Accademia di San Luca by P. Marconi, A. Cipriani and E. Valeriani. Rome, 1974.)
Schiantarelli then crops up in 1775, apparently working his way down to Vanvitelli & Fuga-Land, where the largesse of the new Bourbon dynasty was doling out large sums of money to kingdom builders. He was the architect of the parish church of S. Michele Arcangelo in the town of Castel Madama near Rome. Strangely, sources from that area cite him as a Neapolitan.
His major credit in Naples was as one of the architects who redesigned the old university building, turning it into the current National Archaeological Museum. (He designed the magnificent staircase in the museum.) Also, the building in the photo accompanying this article is called, simply, the “Schiantarelli building." It is located on the north side of via Foria at the intersection of via Duomo. The name is unusual; although the Albergo dei Poveri may also be called Palazzo Fuga (after the architect), to my knowledge there is, for example, no Palazzo Vanvitelli or Palazzo Fanzago in Naples. (If they named every building in Naples built by Fanzago after the architect, Cosimo Fanzago, the rest of the alphabet could take some serious time off.) I don’t know who commissioned the Schiantarelli building or who ordered those 16 busts of the presumably extended family members to be inserted into the niches —and I don’t anyone who does know. Even the normally long-winded I Palazzi di Napoli by Aurelio De Rosa (Newton and Compton editors. Rome 2001) says, simply, that it is a “beautiful building. To most of us, it’s “that building with all the faces.”
Also in Naples, we find the church of Santa Maria Maddalena de' Pazzi on via Salvator Rosa restored by Schiantarelli at the end of the 1700s; also, two buildings on via Toledo—the Palazzo Lieto and Palazzo Monaco di Lapio; Schiantarelli also assisted Fuga on the rebuilding of Palazzo Gravina (now part of the architectural department of the University of Naples). Outside the city, he contributed to the design of at least two of the famous “Vesuvian Villas”—the Villa Vannucchi and the Villa Lauro-Lancellotti in Portici. In nearby Angri, he also built a villa and gardens for prince Marcantonio Doria. The original plan for the Naples astronomical observatory was also Schiantarelli’s (the plan was abandoned in the turbulent times of the Neapolitan Republic, coming to fruition only after Schiantarelli's death when his work was finished by another architect during the French rule of Murat).