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The Church of San Michele (Capri-Anacapri)


The Church of San Michele in the town of Anacapri on the island of Capri has been designated a "monument" due to the presence of the remarkable—and newly restored—majolica floor mosaic (above) called The Garden of Eden, showing the Tree of Temptation with the serpent, the animals described in the Bible, and Adam and Eve as they are expelled from the Garden by an angel. The floor mosaic dates from 1761; it has approximately 1,500 tiles and is considered one of the finest examples of the 18th-century school of Neapolitan majolica craftsmanship. It was the work of Leonardo Chiaiese. In both theme and format, it is reminiscent of the Tree of Life mosaic in the cathedral of Otranto.

The church of San Michele, itself, was built in the years 1698 to 1727. The architect was D.A. Vaccaro, one of the greatest and most active craftsmen of his day in Naples. The church has had a varied history: the adjacent premises first served as a convent; then, during the British occupation of the island from 1806-1808 the entire complex was used as an arms deposit; during the subsequent anti-clerical rule of the French under Murat, the religious order was closed; the convent was reopened after the Bourbon restoration (1816); the convent premises were eventually sold, but the church with its splendid mosaic has remained. The church contains a number of paintings by well-known artists of the Neapolitan Baroque, including Francesco Solimena and Paolo de Matteis.

                      

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