Naples in the time of Napoleon. Rebell and the light of the Gulf restores the atmosphere and image of the city in the years from 1808 to 1815, when Joachim Murat and his consort Caroline Bonaparte, the youngest of Napoleon's three sisters, were the much-loved rulers of Naples. This was a period of progress and renewed splendour for the kingdom, marked by extraordinary social, economic and urban transformations and particular attention towards the territory. The culture of the Murats and their modern taste acquired in Paris gave the arts a considerable boost, dividing their time between the official royal palaces of Naples and Caserta and their favourite private residence in Portici.
Patrons of the great portrait painters, Joachim and especially Caroline showed a particular sensitivity for veduta and landscape painting, calling French masters in the genre to their court, Special protection was reserved for the Viennese artist Joseph Rebell, who, along with other specialists in veduta painting, features prominently in this exhibition. Rebell spent several periods of time in Italy between 1812 and 1824, particularly in Naples.
Views of the city, its gulf and magnificent surroundings were his favourite subjects, even after leaving Naples in 1815, fuelling in Europe the myth of the unique nature of this enchanted land celebrated by the painters of the Grand Tour. His training and success are evoked and set against the backdrop of the cosmopolitan Neapolitan scene between the end of the 18th century and the second decade of the 19th century, marked by the presence of numerous travellers and landscape painters who profoundly renewed the vision of reality.
The Murat family itself is also a protagonist of the exhibition, with the presence of numerous portraits, paintings and sculptures bearing witness to the important role it played at that time.
The works are on loan from prestigious organisations, including the Belvedere of Vienna, partner of the exhibition, other major Austrian museum, such as the Vienna Academy of Fine Arts and the Austrian National Library, and French museums such as the Château of Fontainebleau and Versailles.
The exhibition is curated by Sabine Grabner, Luisa Martorelli, Fernando Mazzocca and Gennaro Toscano, with the collaboration of the Institut français in Naples.