Francesco Saverio Citarelli was born in Naples in 1790. Pupil from an early age of the wood sculptor Francesco Verzella, master who is part of a famous family of sculptors of cribs of the eighteenth century Neapolitan, then passes the Academy of Fine Arts, where, however, follows the courses of painting.
Anatomical wax models
In 1813, after attending the course of anatomy at the Academy, he obtained a scholarship to move to Florence and deepen his studies at the school of wax models founded by Felice Fontana together with Clemente Susini.
Pupil of Serantoris, Francesco Saverio Citarelli, returned to Naples, in 1824 he was appointed sculptor in wax at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples and the following year, was commissioned by the president of the Royal Bourbon Society to perform ceroplastic models of the human muscular and bony system.
These models are still preserved at the Anatomical Museum of the University of Naples and were gradually exhibited by the artist at Bourbon Exhibitions. For example, at that of 1833 appear the Preparation in wax of external myology, for the study of painting, which represents a fighter in the act of vibrating the blow and the Male head with various anatomical observations.
Between sculpture and painting
Alongside this activity, the artist establishes himself as a sculptor of neoclassical style. The attention to anatomy and then to the purely scientific aspect of the human body make him an extremely eclectic sculptor, as can be seen from the allegorical figures and trophies made for the staircase of the Royal Palace of Naples around the fifties of the nineteenth century.
At the same time, he devoted himself to painting, obtaining the chair of this subject at the Academy of Fine Arts in Naples in 1850. From a stylistic point of view, he follows a typical eighteenth-century taste, with a cold and soft chromatism and a strictly academic formalism. But Francesco Saverio Citarelli is remembered mainly for his activity as a sculptor.
At the Bourbon Exhibition of 1841, along with the canvas The Resurrection of Lazarus, appear three marble statues: Dancer, Innocence and Love. Two years later he exhibited the bronze group with Hercules and Lica and the marble statuette Love Sleeping and in 1845 the plaster Jesus led to the tomb by Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea.
In the fifties, varying from the use of plaster, polychrome terracotta and wood, he returned to the production of statues of the crib, in which he follows the tradition of the eighteenth century, on the other hand shows the first hints of a realistic treatment of expressions and poses, as found in the sculpture Girl joking with a butterfly, which in the catalog of the Bourbon Exhibition of 1859 is classified as “marble statue almost to life”. Active until the sixties, he died in Naples in 1871.