The silver liturgical artifacts, now preserved in the Museum of the Basilica, represent the direct heritage of the religious and devotional history of Martina Franca as well as the primary witnesses of the artistic virtue and personality evolution of the master silversmiths – mostly from the Neapolitan school – who have manufactured invaluable handicrafts.
The reports of the pastoral visits of the archbishops of Taranto, dating between 1594 and 1721, recorded accurate lists and descriptions of this huge sacred heritage. Of the oldest collections, partly lost and partly perhaps ‘interdicted’ due to the wear of time, only a few specimens are preserved.
Much have contributed to the study and dissemination of knowledge of the Basilica’s Treasury’s works of art, the three exhibitions which have been opened cured by the art historian Angela Convenuto and by the architect Ibrahim Badran, enriched by art-historical documentation and restoration and opened to the public since 2002.
The silver artifacts included in the Treasury – catalogued since 1992 by the Superintendency for Architecture, Art and History Heritage of Apulia and studied by the historian Giovanni Boraccesi – include reliquaries, monstrances, altar cards, chalices, candlesticks, statues and wall lamps, mostly commissioned by clergymen, hegemonic families’ representatives and by the feudal lineage of the Dukes Caracciolo.
Exceptional value have, in particular, the two simulacra-statues of the patron saints of the town, Martin and Comasia, by the artist Andrea De Blasio, the famous Neapolitan silversmith who worked from 1694 to the second half of the eighteenth century and to whom a monographic exhibition curated by Angela Convenuto was dedicated in 2015.
The Treasury of the Basilica also keeps recent artifacts, dating from the nineteenth-twentieth century and attributed to the goldsmith and engraver Daniel Libardi (1875-1957)from Martina.
Monsignor Franco Semeraro, dean of the Basilica, recently donated new liturgical silver, including a Chalice of the Aragonese period, an Incense Boat manufactured by the Roman silversmith Filippo della Miglia (1795-1856) and a Chalice, probably made in a Parisian atelier of the XVII century.