Once upon in Piacenza, north of Italy, in the Palazzo Farnese, a pictorial cycle dedicated to the war conducted from 1577 against the Protestants in the Flanders by Alessandro Farnese, duke of Parma, on behalf of the Catholic king of Spain Philip II.
Alessandro Farnese was an innovator in war strategy and tactic and he was object of envy by the court, that tried to let him fall in disgrace by the king.
For example in 1579 it fomented the appointment of his mother, Margherita of Austria, as governor of the Flanders, in order to flank (and limitate) him in the command. The appointment was annulled only in 1582. Ten years later, in 1592, Alessandro Farnese died at Arras.
The wars of religion are at the origins of the birth of the modern Belgium (Catholic) and Neederlands (Protestants).
In 1731 died Antonio Farnese, duke of Parma and Piacenza. The last heir of the dinasty was Charles of Bourbon, Elisabetta Farnese and Philip V of Spain firstborn.
From Piacenza to Napoli
Due to the troubles of those years, afflicted by the wars of religion, and Charles's rise to the throne of Napoli in 1735, the Farnesina paintings was moved first to Parma and then to Napoli, where they have been arranged in Hall of Sundial, decorated by a cycle of Flamand tapestries.
Some years later...
In 1957 the tapestries, along with the paintings, were moved to the museum of Capodimonte and in 1995 they have been subtitled with XIX century pictures of Neapolitan school.
Alessandro Farnese' Moral Virtues (1686-1688) by Anonymous painter of the 17th centuryMuseo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
The celebration of the leader
The anonymous painter celebrate here Alessandro Farnese as a Roman general. Proud and confident, he holds the scepter with his right hand and he is the surrounded by the moral virtues
The Prudence, with the attribute of the serpent, and the Faith, with the lion
The weapons of Faith
The cycle is dedicated to wars of religion, so the painter here depicts Alessandro Farnese trying the weapons provided by the Angels: the bow and the thre-points arrows, symbol of intelligence, while the eagles are symbol of intellectual curiosity and sharpness.
Giovanni Evangelista Draghi presents here Alessandro Farnese as the champion of the Catholicism. The Angels inspire him to choose the Right, while the Wrong run away as a fiend.
City surrenders (1686-1688) by Sebastiano Ricci (?)Museo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
This picture, probably by Sebastiano Ricci, presents Alessandro Farnese receiving the key of a city, perhaps Gent (conquered in 1584), or symbolically the surrender to Philip II of the League of Arras, gathering the Walloon provinces.
Alessandro is represented under a canopy as Alexander the Great.
Battle (1686-1688) by Anonymous painter of the 17th centuryMuseo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
The painter shows here a general battle, with the troops assaulting the walls of a Flamand city.
The dead soldier surrounded by his companions could be Fabio Farnese. If so the battle could be under the walls of Maestricht. The city was defeated thanks to the construction of wooden towers higher than the fortification walls.
Giovanni Evangelista Draghi summarize here two episodes: the conquest of Maastricht (1579) and the triumphal procession, occurred some days later.
The picture likely describe an episode occurred during the journey to Namur: Alessandro Farnese sentenced to death a soldier that insulted him, but decided in a second time to leave him escape in consideration of his courage.
Alessandro Farnese and Margherita of Austria at Namur (1686-1688) by Anonymous painter of the 17th centuryMuseo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Mother and son
This picture probably represents Alessandro Farnese and his mother, Margherita of Austria, sent by the king Philip II in the Flanders as a governor, with the aim of restrict the duke's power and political influence.
Alessandro actually wanted to rule alone and convinced her to renounce and come back home, to her husband ottavio Farnese, represented in the mirror
Alessandro Farnese enters Tournai in triumph (1686-1688) by Giovanni Evangelista DraghiMuseo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Giovanni Evangelista Draghi paints here the conquest of Tournai, after a long siege. Alessandro Farnese is represented as a victorious Roma general
The pages deliver standards where Alessandro Farnese is claimed as Fortissimo Generale (very gifted general) and Serenissimo Principe (very peaceful prince)
This is the only picture where Alessandro Farnese is represented during a war action. According to the literary description of the Flanders war, during the battle of Steemberghen, the duke was decisive in motivating the soldiers, momentarily in confusion.
Alessandro Farnese administers justice (1686-1688) by Giovanni Evangelista DraghiMuseo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
The just prince
The episode represented is probably occurred at Ostend, where Alessandro Farnese granted a pardon to three captains that deserted during the battle, because of the bravery usually demonstrated.
The duke here holds back the companions of the three soldiers, to avoid violent revenge against them
Alessandro Farnese at the siege of Antwerp (1686-1688) by Giovanni Evangelista DraghiMuseo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Giovanni Evangelista Draghi presents here one of the most important episode of the war in the Flanders: the siege of Antwerp.
Alessandro Farnese won the resistance of the citizens thanks to a bridge of ships
The painting narrate the triumphal entrance of the duke in Antwerp in1585, where a girl dressed in white offer him the keys of the city.
The painter illustrate here likely, with symbolic praise, the episode occurred at Sichem, where Alessandro Farnese took himself the hoe to demolish the walls of the city, being an example for the soldiers.
The anonymous painter shows here a general episode of triumph of the duke,
This picture and the following have a theatre planning, with the human figures into the foreground that introduce the scene on the background
Wide spaces, landscapes with farmhouses and mountains
Alessandro Farnese's death (1686-1688) by Domenico PiolaMuseo Archeologico Nazionale di Napoli
Domenico Piola represents here the death of the duke, with the iconographic style of St. Joseph's death.
The skeleton, symbol of the Death, brings a laurel crown, while the angel a mystic stars one, to mark the distance between Heaven and Earth
The flower composition is an element of attribution of the picture to Domenico Piola, popular for this genre of composition
Curated by Caterina Serena Martucci