Porcelain boudoir of Maria Amalia of Saxony, Capodimonte National Museum

The Porcelain boudoir of Maria Amalia of Saxony is a rococo interior now located in the Palace of Capodimonte in Naples. It was originally made for the Palace of Portici in 1757–59, but has now been moved to the Capodimonte Palace.It is named after Maria Amalia of Saxony, queen of Naples. It consists of white porcelain panels decorated in high relief with festoons and genre scenes, drawing on the Chinoiserie popular at the time. It was designed by Giuseppe Gricci (c. 1700–1770) and produced in the Royal Porcelain Factory of Capodimonte, founded by Maria Amalia and her husband Charles of Bourbon in 1743.

After Charles became Carlos III of Spain and moved the Capodimonte factory to Madrid as the Real Fábrica del Buen Retiro, similar rooms were made for the Palace of Aranjuez (also chinoiserie), and the Palacio Real, Madrid, this time in a Neoclassical style.

Room 51 has been modified from its original shape, reduced in size, losing the opening on the garden, but retaining that on the internal courtyard, to act as an entrance to the porcelain sitting room of Maria Amalia of Saxony, moved to the palace of Capodimonte in 1886: the room is decorated with tapestries by Domenico Del Rosso and several paintings by Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun and Pietro Duranti and one by Carlo Bonavia, the Cascata, created in 1755; the environment is completed with some chairs made in Naples between the end of the XVIII century and the beginning of the XIX century and a clock by Joseph Martineau.

The porcelain parlor of the queen of Naples Maria Amalia of Saxony, today in the royal palace of Capodimonte, is a rococo style room entirely covered with white porcelain plates decorated in high relief with festoons and genre scenes inspired by the taste of the “Chinoiserie” prevailing in the XVIII century. One of the happiest creations of the Neapolitan eighteenth century civilization, it represented the “summa” of the technical and artistic expertise achieved in just under twenty years by the Royal Porcelain Factory of Capodimonte, founded in 1743 by Carlo di Borbone and Maria Amalia herself.

In room 52 there is the porcelain sitting room, composed of over three thousand pieces and made between 1757 and 1759 by Giovanni Battista Natali, to be intended for private use of Queen Maria Amalia, who however will use it very little. is that, according to the documents of the time, the last operation of the chandelier dates back to July 1759 and on October 6 of the same year the queen left Naples to move to Madrid, where she had one built similar to the royal palace of Aranjuez: originally mounted in the palace of Portici, it was transferred to the palace of Capodimonte in 1866 at the behest of Annibale Sacco.

All the phases of its realization are known through different documents: Luigi Vanvitelli, in a letter addressed to his brother Urbano, dated June 1758, spoke of having seen the work not yet assembled and it is therefore deducible that this had been started in the previous year, and certainly ended in 1759, the year in which Giuseppe Gricci went to Portici with twenty-six carriages which contained the material ready to be assembled; in May 1759 the stucco ceiling, the wooden doors and the chandelier were ready, while it is not known whether the floor was painted or porcelain too.

The pieces of porcelain were processed in the Capodimonte factory, under the guidance of the chief modeler Giuseppe Gricci, who made use of the collaboration of Geatano Fumo and Ambrogio Di Giorgio for the forming and Gaetano Tucci for the cooking, so as to achieve the drawings by Johann Sigmund Fischer and Luigi Restile; in Portici instead Mattia Gasparini worked for the stuccos and Gennaro Di Fiore for the wooden carvings. The sitting room also had to be entirely furnished in porcelain, of which, however, no trace remains except a console from 1759, preserved at the musée national de Céramique in Sèvres.

Moved to the palace of Capodimonte, in a room adapted for the occasion, it is noted how the stucco vault perfectly joins the porcelain construction, which is fixed to the wall by screws resting on a wooden cage, hidden by frames, festoons and fruit: the decorations on the walls are made up of animals, musical trophies bearing Chinese cartouches or ideograms, praising King Charles and written by a poet belonging to the Chinese college of Naples, festoons and scenes of Chinese life alternating with mirrors; the porcelain lounge is the most significant example for the taste of the chinoiserie that spread in Europe in the eighteenth century.

Room 53, which has also been reduced in size to its original form, houses portraits of Ferdinando and Maria Carolina’s children commissioned to Élisabeth Vigée-Le Brun, a Gobelins-made tapestry, praising Don Quixote at the Barcelona festival given by Don Antonio Moreno and, on the walls, four consoles with golden belt decorated with military trophies of the 19th century: on them rest four vases adorned with pairs of statuettes depicting the Farnese Hercules, made in earthenware by the Del Vecchio factory.

The “sitting room” was commissioned to the porcelain manufacture for the boudoir room of the queen’s private apartment in the Reggia di Portici near Naples and built, starting from 1757, on a preliminary project prepared by the painter and quadraturist from Piacenza Giovan Battista Natali (Pontremoli 1698 – Naples 1765). It is known, however, that the taste indications of Maria Amalia herself, which at least for the definition of the wooden carvings, assumed a role of direct supervision of the works, evidenced by the documents relating to the implementation of the “sitting room”, also had a significant influence.

It is a rectangular room (6.75 x 4.8 x 5.13 m) entirely covered with three thousand pieces of porcelain with a white background decorated with high-relief plastic applications, accompanied by six large French mirrors, and with a Rocaille stucco ceiling treated in imitation of porcelain. There were also specifically designed carved doors and curtains, while there are doubts that the porcelain floor, to which Vanvitelli refers in a letter from 1748, has never been made.

The realization of the “sitting room” engaged the porcelain “specialists” for about three years at full capacity. But due to the complexity of the project, workers outside the “Real Fabbrica” were also involved, such as plasterers, carvers and gilders, led respectively by the ornamentist Mattia Gasparini, author of the stucco ceiling for porcelain use, and by the wooden sculptor Gennaro di Fiore, two names related to the commission of Charles III also in Spain. Giuseppe Gricci was the creator of the porcelain plates made “in mold” on plaster forms, from 1743 at the head of the “Camera del Modellato” of the manufacture, while the “third fire” pictorial decoration will be up to Johann Sigmund Fischer, and to Luigi Restile.

On May 10, 1759, the boudoir could be said to have been completed (except perhaps the floor), since on that date Maria Amalia had the opportunity to see it assembled and complete with the carvings. Nonetheless, she did not have time to live in it, since shortly thereafter the royal couple would leave Naples for Spain, to encircle the crown. But the work must have been to his full satisfaction, since the queen requested a replica for the residence of Aranjuez, at the gates of Madrid.

During the nineteenth century the living room took on various functions of writing first and then the reception room, as documented by inventories of furniture of Portici era. Finally in 1866, with the transfer of the Bourbon assets to the Kingdom of Italy, the porcelain cladding of the room was dismantled and transferred to the Royal Palace of Capodimonte. On that occasion it was equipped with new wooden finishes made according to the taste of chinoiseriefrom the second half of the 19th century, while the furnishings were completed with English and Neapolitan furniture from the royal collections, still in Capodimonte today. Only in 1958 finally, the original ceiling was able to be rejoined to the walls, after a delicate restoration operation.

China evoked in the boudoir of Maria Amalia of Saxony was not that of the first hand of the original artefacts, imported by the thousands in the 18th century through the Dutch and British markets, which also played a large part in defining the rocaille aesthetic. On the contrary, the wonderful and unattainable one of the Chinoiserie: the fairytale exoticism, subtly elusive, transfigured by the imagination of French artists such as Watteau and Boucher, soon spread throughout Europe, as a phenomenon of custom of the wealthy classes. It was a ductile material of shapes, motifs and settings, incessantly recreated by the inexhaustible inspiration of skilled craftsmen, now re-proposed in the forms of a garden pavilion, now in those of a lacquer furniture, now of a parry, following the requests of a cultured and skeptical client, inclined to escape in the fantastic.

Like other more or less successful products of that kind, the Orient represented in the Portici drawing room was therefore a product of pure fantasy, reinvented in this case through the genre skits carried out on the walls.

What made this environment immediately interesting was the introduction – for the first time – of porcelain as the almost unique material for covering the walls, replacing the usual boiseries, stuccos or wallpapers. From that unprecedented union, the evanescent world of chinoiserie was reborn more intimately made, thanks to the intrinsic and symbolic qualities that European sensitivity had long recognized for the precious material. Collected with “modern” sharpness in the toilets of oriental curiosities, porcelain was also a metaphor and paradigm for Catai”true”: the country from which it came and of which it seemed to summarize the aesthetic and spiritual essence. In the parlor of the Queen of Naples, the two visions of that world, the “real” and the invented one, came for the first time, exceptionally, to coincide.

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.