Introduction to the Exhibit
The exhibit reconstructs the archaeological events in the Kingdom of Naples; from the mid-1700s up to the years of Napoleon's rule (1806-1815), the theme of antiquity and its political significance crossed the lives of small and large personalities. Through the documents of the Banco di Napoli Historical Archive we reconstruct the stories of these characters, from the fortunate and stubborn discovery of Herculaneum by Rocco Gioacchino Alcubierre, passing through the engraver activity of Giuseppe Aloja, aimed at telling "through images "(the engravings) the archaeological discoveries (The passenger artist), up to the realization of the project of a city museum capable of hosting antiquities (The time of the empire) with the first director Michele Arditi and the figure of the archaeologist Marcello Venuti ( The empty rooms).
The narration presents the events and thoughts of Rocco Gioacchino Alcubierre, one of the architects of the discovery of the Herculaneum archeological finds in 1738. Alcubierre had followed Carlo di Borbone to Italy as an engineer of the military genius. The discovery of the ruins of the ancient city of Herculaneum, which took place during the construction of the Royal Villa of Portici, marked the development of his career and linked Alcubierre to the direction of the archaeological excavations until his death in 1780.
Payment - Gioacchino Alcubierre
Payment that the engineer Gioacchino Alcubierre receives as compensation for the expenses he incurred to make horse-drawn carriages and for racehorses to visit the excavations of Resina, Torre Annunziata, Civita and Gragnano.
clip - Alcubierre, digging among the papers (2020-06-12) by ilCartastorie foundation © and National Archaeological Museum of NaplesilCartastorie | Museo dell'Archivio Storico del Banco di Napoli
The passenger artist
The narration is inspired by a payment intended to accomodate the travel expenses of Giuseppe Antonio Aloja, an engraver at the service of the Borboni crown and author of some of the most beautiful branches of the Antiquities of Herculaneum. The story, told by the coachman in charge of leading Aloja to the excavations, is a brief immersion in the climate of enthusiasm, secret and naive attraction that the first archaeological excavations unleashed in Naples in the first half of the 18th century.
clip - Aloja, il passeggero artista (2020-06-12) by ilCartastorie foundation © and National Archaeological Museum of NaplesilCartastorie | Museo dell'Archivio Storico del Banco di Napoli
Giuseppe Aloja was the oldest member and probably the progenitor of a family that was the protagonist of the Neapolitan engraving activity of the 18th and 19th centuries. He was actively and immediately involved in the project of the principiate in 1757 and dedicated by the Bourbon dynasty to the representation of Herculaneum antiquities; the Antiquities of Herculaneum Exposed. In 1759 he created an impressive view of the city of Naples, engraved on eight copper plates and which remains his best known work.
The Royal Printing House
The Royal Printing House began its activity in 1748 at the behest of Carlo di Borbone. Its nature as an instrument firmly linked to the policies of the Borboni court in Naples is underlined by the fact that it found its location directly inside the royal palace. The projects that the printing house faced ranged from the publication of Luigi Vanvitelli's drawings for the construction of the Royal Palace of Caserta, through the reproduction of some of the masterpieces of the Farnese Collection, up to the ambitious project of the Antiquities of Herculaneum Esposte (1757-1792).
Payment - Bookseller Giulio Giannini
Payment of two hundred and sixty-five ducats and 4.8 tarì that Salvatore Caruso arranged for the bookseller Giulio Giannini for the binding of some tomes commissioned by the director of the Royal Printer.
The time of the empire
The narration hinges on a document concerning the salary of the watchmaker of the Royal Museum, Don Giuseppe Fiore, and aims to embrace, in the perspective of a minor employee, the epochal turning point that the French decade (1806-1815) represented for Naples, for the external aspects of the royal power and for the new function that culture and classical beauty played in the context of the Napoleonic Empire. The face of the city, the new ranks of the state administration, change and move all around the National Museum, which, together with its monumental clock, marks the new time of Europe.
clip - Arditi, the time of the empire (2020-06-12) by ilCartastorie foundation © and National Archaeological Museum of NaplesilCartastorie | Museo dell'Archivio Storico del Banco di Napoli
With the definition of the French Decade it is customary to identify that period, between 30 March 1806 and 20 May 1815, in which Giuseppe Bonaparte and Gioacchino Murat alternated on the throne of Naples. The French occupation of 1806 brought the continental part of the Kingdom (Sicily remained in the hands of the Borboni dynasty) in the Napoleonic imperial system and involved, especially in the Murattian period (1808-1815), the adoption of a series of government apparatuses and of reforms of the new conception of the state matured in France after the French Revolution (1789).
Michele Arditi, born in Presicce near Lecce in 1746, distinguished himself as a jurist and academic in Naples in the second half of the eighteenth century. His forensic career and his cultural interests were strongly influenced by the first season of Herculaneum and Pompeii's excavations, begun respectively in 1738 and 1748. He did not actively participate in the political events of the Neapolitan Republic of 1799. In 1807 he was appointed, by Giuseppe Bonaparte, director of the National Museum and superintendent of antiquities excavations. He continued his management operation when Ferdinando di Borbone returned to the area. He died in 1838, his funeral monument in the church of San Ferdinando was made by the artist Canova.
Two documents from the Banco di San Giacomo illustrate some moments of the Neapolitan stay of the antiquarian and archaeologist Marcello Venuti. The two payments, extinguished between August and September 1736, highlight the transfer of the Cavalier Venuti from a house in Via San Mandato to a house located outside the Porta di Chiaia. Furthermore, one of these payments confirms the relationship between Marcello Venuti and the Pisan order of the Knights of Santo Stefano, suggesting an alternation between one of the "balì" of the order and the Cortonese antiquarian in the house of San Mandato. These exquisitely private aspects are the pretext for narrating, against the backdrop of an ordinary story of rentals and removals, the great contribution made by the Cortonese archaeologist to the discovery and deepening of the ancient in the early years of the reign of Carlo III.
clip - Venuti, the empty rooms (2020-06-12) by ilCartastorie foundation © and National Archaeological Museum of NaplesilCartastorie | Museo dell'Archivio Storico del Banco di Napoli
Payment order - Marcello Venuti
Payment order of Cavalier Marcello Venuti to Cavalier Vincenzo de Bonis for the resolution of the judicial controversy concerning the furniture belonging to the balì of the Order of Santo Stefano Gaetano Balduino.
sense of the Exhibit
Visits to archaeological sites are among the most engaging cultural experiences and give the visitor an enormous sense of authenticity. Facing a journey of knowledge in the history of archeology through documents allows you to better understand the characters and stories that are hidden behind those engaging and all-encompassing experiences. This is the sense of a series of narratives that combine the ancient flavor of ruins and excavations with the small details and notes that only documents are able to return