The Farnese collection gives its name to the gallery of the same name and all the works are sorted by area of origin in temporal sequence: the collection was started in the mid-sixteenth century by Pope Paul III, who collected it in his palace in Campo de ‘Fiori both ancient works, especially statuary from archaeological finds in the area of Rome as from the Baths of Caracalla, and modern, mostly pictorial works by artists such as Raphael, Sebastiano del Piombo, El Greco and Tiziano. With Ottavio Farneseand his son Alessandro, during the seventeenth century the collection was enriched with numerous pieces, thanks also to the donation, in 1600, of Fulvio Orsini to cardinal Odoardo and to the confiscation, in 1612, of the belongings belonging to some members of the Parma aristocracy and Piacenza, held responsible for a conspiracy hatched the year before against Ranuccio I Farnese. Therefore, works by artists such as Correggio and Parmigianino become part of the collection, alongside purchases from Roman palaces.
Also, when Alexander became sovereign of the Netherlands, next to the Italian pictorial school was also added the Flemish one: however, according to some sources of the time, the monarch would not have been a careful collector unlike his father and mother Margherita of Austria. In 1693 the collection of Margherita Farnese, sister of Ranuccio was added. Later the collection passed into the hands of Elizabeth, and then to her son Charles of Bourbon, who when he became king of Naples transferred all the works to the capital of his kingdom: further expanded with new acquisitions also with amber objects,bronze, rock crystal, majolica and silver, the collection was housed in the purpose-built palace of Capodimonte. Over the years, however, the collection was moved to various buildings in the city until the end of the Second World War when a reorganization of the Neapolitan museums was decided: the statuary remained in the National Archaeological Museum, while the paintings were again moved to the palace of Capodimonte in the newborn museum, restoring the ancient Farnesian Gallery.
Room 2 marks the entrance to the Farnese Gallery and allows a view, with its paintings, of the prominent personalities of the Farnese family: many of the works present, such as the Portrait of Paul III and the Portrait of Paul III with the nephews Alessandro and Ottavio Farnese, are the work of Titian, whose collection of Capodimonte represents for the artist the most important and numerous both in Italy and in the world; there are also paintings by Raphael, such as the Portrait of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, Giorgio Vasari and Andrea del Sarto, as well as sculptures by Guglielmo Della Porta and a tapestry depicting theSacrifice of Alexander.
The small room 3 is entirely dedicated to the Crucifixion of Masaccio; this is not part of the Farnese collection, but was purchased in 1901 by a private individual as the work of an unknown Florentine of the fifteenth century and only later believed to be the central compartment of the Polyptych of Pisa that Masaccio had made for the Carmine church in the Pisan capital, then divided into various pieces preserved in other European and American museums.
In room 4 four charcoal drawings are collected: two by Michelangelo, one by Raphael and one by Giovan Francesco Penni belonged to Fulvio Orsini, and inherited, according to the will of the member of the Farnese family, by Ranuccio; the works arrived in the palace of Capodimonte in 1759, under Giuseppe Bonaparte, then transferred to the Royal Palace of Studies, constituting the main nucleus of the Cabinet of Drawings and Prints and finally brought back to the palace of Capodimonte. In the same room there is a painting attributed to Hendrick van den Broeck, Venus and Cupid, a copy of Michelangelo’s homonymous charcoal, exhibited by his side and the subject of numerous replicas also by other artists.
From room 5 the works are arranged in a chronological order and divided by cultural areas: among the main ones stand out two panels by Masolino da Panicale, the Foundation of Santa Maria Maggiore and the Assumption of the Virgin, central elements of a triptych originally placed on the altar of the basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.
Room 6 contains paintings from both the Farnese and Bourbon collections of Umbrian – Tuscan Renaissance artists, who show the pictorial novelties of the time, such as the use of perspective: artists such as Filippino Lippi, Lorenzo di Credi, Sandro Botticelli are part of it, Raffaellino del Garbo and Raffaello, with his Eternal youth work between cherubim and Madonna’s head, the main work in the room; the canvas by Francesco Zaganelli, with the Christ carrying the cross, departs from the predominant theme, closer to Dürer’s painting.
Room 7 houses the Borgia collection: it is a collection purchased in 1817 by Ferdinando I, owned by Cardinal Borgia who, during the course of the eighteenth century, collected, thanks to the various Catholic missions around the world, numerous artistic testimonies from the most disparate peoples, such as oriental and exotic ones. The works were preserved by the cardinal both in a Roman palace and in his home in Velletri, where he gave rise to a real museum, open to scholars and divided into ten sections: Egyptian, Etruscan and Volsque antiquities, Greco – Roman, Roman, Far Eastern art, Arab antiquities, ethno-anthropological artifacts from Northern Europe, Central America and the Sacred Museum, composed of works related to iconography and sacred liturgy. When the cardinal died, the works were inherited by his nephew Camillo Borgia and later purchased by the Bourbon ruler: the collection was then first exhibited at the Royal Bourbon Museum and later, in 1957, transferred to the royal palace of Capodimonte where, after long inventory works, three sections are exhibited, namely the Sacred Museum, the Arab Tuff and the Index.
The collection includes paintings such as Sant’Eufemia by Andrea Mantegna, the Madonna and Child with Saints Peter, Paul and Antonio Abate by Taddeo Gaddi, the Madonna and Child by Bartolomeo Caporali, the Madonna by Jacopo del Casentino, the San Sebastiano di Taddeo di Bartolo, the Virtues and scenes from the life of Jason by Giovanni Bernardi; and still there are objects of Syrian, Spanish, Burmese and French manufacturecomposed of various materials such as the Polyptych of the Passion, in alabaster, of the English school, glass, goldsmiths, enamels such as Pace di Nicolò Lionello, and ivories, such as the Byzantine Crucifixion of the tenth century.
From room 8 begins that series of rooms, facing along the western side of the building, which already in the eighteenth century housed the first paintings of the Farnese collection: the ceiling of the room, together with that of rooms 9 and 10, still has decorative frescoes of the nineteenth century, then restored during the fifties of the twentieth century; in the room there are pictorial works of Venetian art dated between the XV and the beginning of the XVI century with artists such as Bartolomeo Vivarini, Andrea Mantegna and Lorenzo Lotto, all belonging to the Farnese collection, while works by other authors such as Giovanni Bellini and Jacopo de ‘Barbarithey are linked to Bourbon purchases. The canvases show all the innovations of the historical period in which they were painted, such as the chromatic refinement, the use of the aerial perspective and the key role of light.
Room 9 displays works by Sebastiano del Piombo, Giulio Romano and Daniele da Volterra, testifying to the fervent Roman artistic season of the 16th century; in the room there are also three paintings, Madonna del Velo and Portrait of Clement VII with the beard of Sebastiano del Piombo and Portrait of a young man by Daniele da Volterra, made on slate, an experimental technique used as an alternative to the canvas and the panels. The copy by Michelangelo of the Last Judgment painted by Marcello Venusti is also interesting, testimony of how the work of the Sistine chapel looked before the interventions of Daniele da Volterra to cover those parts considered indecent.
Room 10 contains the paintings of Tuscan artists made in the first quarter of the 16th century: they are Pontormo, Rosso, Fra Bartolomeo, Franciabigio, Andrea del Sarto, Domenico Puligo and Pieter de Witte, artists who will open the doors to mannerism.
Room 11 collects Venetian works: in particular the activities of a by now mature Titian such as Danae, Portrait of a young girl and Magdalene, of a young Dominikos Theotokópoulos, better known as El Greco, a pupil of Titian and court painter of the Farnese, and by Jacopo Palma the Elder. Of the first, noteworthy is Boy blowing on a burning ember, he works in a strong chiaroscuro key, with evident Caravaggesque accents.
Room 12 contains one of the most important collections of 16th century Emilian painting in the world, the result of the Farnese collection and confiscations against some Piacenza and Parma families who had hatched a conspiracy against Ranuccio Farnese; among the artists: Correggio, with its sacred and mythological themes and human figures with soft shapes and soft colors, Parmigianino, one of the protagonists of Italian mannerism and of a painting made of experimentations, Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli, Benvenuto Tisi from Garofalo, Dosso Dossi, Lelio Orsi and Ippolito Scarsella, the latter two with a characteristic fairytale and narrative streak. Some marble busts from the Roman era complete the environment.
Room 13 collects those works of artists who worked at the Farnese court in Parma, a place in full intellectual fervor during that period: in particular it is Jacopo Zanguidi, better known as Bertoja, with a Madonna and Child, and Girolamo Mirola, which is also joined by foreign artists such as Jan Soens.
Room 14 is the Gallery of Rare Things, commonly called Wunderkammer, or rather a sort of room of wonders that had the task of captivating and amaze visitors: in addition to the normal paintings, it collects those precious and rare works of what remains of the decorative arts of the Farnese collection, once housed in the Ducal Gallery of Parma. Among the works in the room: the Farnese box, made by Manno Sbarri with crystals engraved by Giovanni Bernardi, bronzes from various Italian and European schools such as those of Giambolognaothers with a typical Renaissance style, such as the David by Francesco di Giorgio Martini and the Cupid by Guglielmo Della Porta, and mannerisms, coins, ivory objects such as a tray and a jug by Johann Michael Maucher, Renaissance medals by Pisanello, Matteo de ‘Pasti and Francesco da Sangallo, enamels, including one depicting Diana the huntress Diana of Jacob Miller the Elder, majolica from Urbino, including a blue majolica set belonging to Alessandro Farnese, rock crystals, wooden micro-carvings and exotic artifacts and finds such as a hard stone Ranocchia from Mexico and the statuette of Huitzilopochtli, god of the Aztec war.
Room 15 contains only the paintings of the Flemish painter Jacob de Backer; these are seven works depicting the seven deadly sins, a trend very popular in the Flemish culture of the sixteenth century: the vice is depicted in the center of the painting and behind it scenes from the New and Old Testaments. The works were purchased by Cosimo Masi in Flanders and confiscated in 1611 by Ranuccio Farnese: when they arrived in Naples they did not enjoy much luck, so much so that they were kept in the deposits of the Palazzo degli Studi before being sold to the Chamber of Deputies in Rome, for embellish the walls; they returned to Naples in 1952, benefiting from a new revaluation.
Room 16 is dedicated to Lombard painting of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, with a not very significant collection, which saw its heyday in centers such as Cremona, Brescia, Bergamo and above all Milan: among the exhibited artists Bernardino Luini and Cesare da Sesto, inspired by Leonardo da Vinci, and Giulio Cesare Procaccini, who with his Madonna and Child and Angel shows the signs of the rigid morality of the Counter-Reformation in sacred painting, where, however, the first signs of the Baroque are found; some busts of Roman emperors complete the room, originally exhibited at Palazzo Farnese in Rome.
Room 17 contains paintings from the Flemish and German areas; in particular, the two masterpieces by Pieter Bruegel the Elder are exhibited, the Parable of the Blind and the Misanthrope, representing two moments of the mature phase of the artist: purchased by Cosimo Masi, secretary of Prince Alexander, and confiscated by a Farnese family at a his heir, Giovanni Battista Masi, in 1611. There are also triptychs, such as the Crucifixion and the Adoration of the Magi by Joos van Cleve, with movable doors and rich in decorative elements, so much so that they seem to re-propose typical elements of Italian art, and a group of small paintings by Civetta depicting landscapes, already mentioned in the inventories of the Marquis Girolamo Sanvitale: other artists on display are Jacob Cornelisz van Oostsanen and Bernard van Orley, the latter with the Portrait of Charles V; most of these paintings are part of the Farnese collection thanks to the acquisitions of Cardinal Odoardo starting from 1641.
Room 18 is almost entirely dedicated to Joachim Beuckelaer: it is not known when or who bought the works, but these certainly belonged to the Farnese collection of Parma as early as 1587, as mentioned in some family inventories, together with about forty paintings that belonged to Duke Ottavio and Ranuccio, in that period in which still lifes and popular scenes such as those of markets and countryside, which the canvases propose, achieved great success in Italy. The only work that does not belong to Beuckelaer is Jesus among the children, by Maarten de Vos.
In room 19 the works of the exponents of the Carracci family, namely the brothers Agostino and Annibale, the main executors for the Farnese family, and the cousin Ludovico are on display: their canvases are conditioned by the privations imposed by the Council of Trent, even if they manage to find a new artistic solution according to which the artist must have a vision of reality in order to bring Italian painting out of that state of crisis.
Room 20 continues to collect works from the Emilian school with Annibale Carracci, this time present with a mature painting inspired by Greek myths such as Rinaldo and Amida and the river Allegory, Giovanni Lanfranco and Sisto Badalocchio.
Room 21 is entirely dedicated to the paintings of Bartolomeo Schedoni, an artist who linked his professional existence to the Farnese family, working for the family between Modena and Parma and assuring them of most of his works, even those that, after the his death, they were deposited in the shop: a scholar from Correggio, Federico Barocci and the Carracci, he made light the predominant novelty of his paintings, which he combines eccentric figures.
Room 22 is still dedicated to Emilian painting: the main work is that of Atalanta and Ippomene by Guido Reni, with whom Giovanni Lanfranco and Michele Desubleo approach; all the paintings present those themes and the style of the nascent baroque current.
Room 24 contains 17th century Flemish paintings with artists such as Antoon van Dyck and his Crucified Christ, purchased by Diego Sartorio for 1,500 ducats, Pieter Paul Rubens and Daniel Seghers: these are works belonging to the collection Farnese or subsequent purchases and which offer a comparison between the Italian and Dutch paintings of the period.
Also in room 25 the exhibition of Flemish painters continues, in particular of works that deal with views, a genre that, from the end of the sixteenth century, was enormously successful thanks also to the request of wealthy bourgeois who love to adorn the walls of their buildings with canvases depicting scenes of everyday life: among the artists exhibited in the environment Sebastian Vrancx, Gillis Mostaert and Pieter Brueghel the Younger with Winter Landscape.
Flemish artists are still found in room 26: this time, however, the theme shifts to still lifes, which will spread enormously throughout the seventeenth century; these are intimate depictions of familiar scenes with portraits of fruit, game, flowers, dishes and crystals as demonstrated by the canvas by David de Coninck Game and Animals or by David Teniers the Younger with Kitchen Interior.
Room 27 continues with the Emilian artists, in particular those influenced by the experience of the Accademia degli Incamminati: works by Ludovico Carracci, such as the Fall of Simon Mago, are on display, which opens the vision to a new conception of space and with signs of an early Baroque, Domenichino with the Guardian Angel, who instead remains anchored to classicism, and Alessandro Tiarini who continues to follow the style of the Caravaggesque school.
The late mannerist style of the late sixteenth century is expressed in the works kept in room 28 with Tuscan and Ligurian artists; important in these paintings is the use of color, almost giving a supernatural hue but still giving a soft and suffused brightness: the Pietà of Cigoli, Venus and Adonis by Luca Cambiaso and San Sebastiano led to the tomb of Domenico Cresti bear witness to this.
Room 29 houses works of different origins and belonging to different cultural classes, demonstrating that the Farnese family, due to internal disagreements, was no longer able to commission artists for paintings for their collection; the most representative of the room are the artists of Genoa, a city that lived between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries a good artistic season: characteristic oils on copper by Carlo Saraceni on mythological themes and works by Orazio de Ferrari and Giovanni Battista Gaulli, while Landscape with the nymph Egeria by Claude Lorrain comes from the Bourbon collection.
Room 30 concludes the Farnese collection: it houses the works of Sebastiano Ricci, a seventeenth-century Venetian, one of the painters of the Farnese house in Parma who enjoyed the protection of Ranuccio; in the room also the Holy Family and Saints by Giuseppe Maria Crespi.
Capodimonte National Museum
The National Museum of Capodimonte is a museum in Naples, Italy, located inside the eponymous palace in the Capodimonte area, which houses several ancient art galleries, one of contemporary art and an apartment historical.
It was officially opened as a museum in 1957, although the palace rooms have housed works of art since 1758. It predominantly preserves paintings, distributed mainly in the two main collections, the Farnese, which include some of the greatest names in Italian and international painting. such as Rafael, Tiziano, Parmigianino, Brueghel the Elder, El Greco, Ludovico Carracci or Guido Reni; and the Neapolitan Gallery, which is made up of works from churches in and around the city, transported to Capodimonte for security reasons after the suppression of religious orders, and features works by artists such as Simone Martini, Colantonio, Caravaggio, Ribera, Luca Giordano or Francesco Solimena. The contemporary art collection is also important, in which Vesuvius by Andy Warhol stands out.
The Capodimonte Museum boasts 47,000 works of art that form one of the largest and most complex collections of medieval, early modern, modern and contemporary art in the world. In 126 galleries spread across 151,000 square feet, works of the great artists are exhibited such as: Michelangelo, Caravaggio, Raphael, Titian, Botticelli, Simone Martini, Giovanni Bellini, Colantonio, Artemisia Gentileschi, Jusepe de Ribera, Battistello, Luca Giordano, Mattia Preti, Francesco Solimena, the Carracci, Guido Reni, Lanfranco, Bruegel the Elder, and Van Dyck to name a few.
It all began with the Farnese Collection that Charles I of Bourbon, son of the King of Spain, inherited from his mother Elisabetta and took with him to Naples in 1735, with the desire to display it in this hilltop Palace. Construction of the Palace began in 1738, to function as a picture gallery and hunting lodge. Capodimonte is the only Italian museum that in addition to representing almost all the schools of early modern Italian art, can also boast works by contemporary artists such as Burri, Paolini, Bourgeois, Warhol, and Kiefer.
The Royal Park of Capodimonte, with its 300 acres and more than 400 plant species, is an unspoiled green space that overlooks the city and Gulf of Naples. Exotic species were planted here, including the first mandarin trees in Italy. It is the largest urban park in Italy, with roughly 1,500,000 visitors a year. Within the Royal Park you can admire the last baroque garden of sino-english design replete with rare oriental fragrances.
Majestically nestled within its Royal Park overlooking the Bay of Naples – Capodimonte offers a truly singular combination of artistic and natural beauty that is utterly unique throughout the world.