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From Caravaggio to Gemito

The works of the permanent collection are presented across three thematic itineraries. On the first floor, in the section of the museum curated by Fernando Mazzocca, a selection of paintings and sculptures displayed as an anthology providing a broad outline of the key events in Neapolitan and Southern painting from the early 17th century up to the first decades of the 20th century. Great masterpieces, some of which only recently discovered, have joined and expanded the collection previously on display at Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano.

Fittingly, the journey begins with the crowning jewel of Intesa Sanpaolo’s collections, the Martyrdom of Saint Ursula, the last canvas Caravaggio painted in May 1610 just weeks before his death. In the new exhibition, its position among other masterpieces from the first half of the 17th century allows us to place the work in the artistic and cultural context related to the Caravaggesque revolution, which, particularly in Naples, marked a decisive turning point in the figurative experiences of artists working in the city, which was the capital of the Spanish viceroyalty in those years.

Oustanding works on display include: Judith beheading Holofernes by Louis Finson, a copy of an original by Caravaggio, which remains lost; Samson and Delilah by Artemisia Gentileschi; three canvases by Bernardo Cavallino; a Holy Family by Battistello Caracciolo; Saint Francis Receiving the Stigmata by Gerrit van Honthorst; St. George by Francesco Guarini; and the Rape of Helen by Luca Giordano. Still life paintings include two exquisite Sottoboschi by Paolo Porpora and canvases by Giuseppe Recco and Giovan Battista Ruoppolo accounting for the significant number of works of this genre in the collections of wealthy patrons and collectors in Naples in the 17th century.

The exhibition itinerary continues with views and landscape painting, a genre that underwent extraordinary development in Naples between the 18th and 19th centuries, starting with six paintings by the Dutchman Gaspar van Wittel, considered one of the pioneers of modern vedutism, and continuing with works by Franz Ludwig Catel, Anton Smink Pitloo, Giacinto Gigante, Nicola Palizzi, Domenico Morelli, Federico Rossano, Edoardo Dalbono, Gioacchino Toma, Francesco Mancini, and Vincenzo Migliaro. This selection allows us to trace the enchanting history of a genre that underwent a series of experimental stages that put the Neapolitan School at the forefront of art in Europe. From the School of Posillipo, where the great legacy of Grand Tour landscape painting developed, the exhibition continues through the Naturalism linked to the School of Resina’s en plein air painting to the more individual experiences of the end of the last century. A further section focuses on the representation of the city of Naples through the interiors of its monumental buildings and streets, and scenes of modern life enacted in public places such as the racetrack, City Hall and marketplaces.

A collection of drawings and sculptures by Vincenzo Gemito forms one of the most important collections of this famous Neapolitan artist’s works: an exceptional array of terracottas, bronzes and drawings that, from the 1870s to the 1920s, document Gemito's extraordinary artistic trajectory,  marked by the personal tragedy of a life undermined by the severe mental instability that forced him to take long breaks from his creative exploits. 


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