19th Century Apartments at Capodimonte

The Fisherboy (ca. 1876) by Vincenzo GemitoMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte


In this section, you will encounter a selection of paintings, sculptures and decorative works of art presented together to afford a complete view of Neapolitan artistic production during the 19th century. From the sculptures of Vincenzo Gemito to the furniture, all the works on display express the artistic innovation of the period.

Considering that these rooms on the main floor were occupied by the Bourbons and the Savoy during the 19th century, a permanent exhibition was proposed to evoke the intimate atmosphere from this period. Historical accuracy was possible thanks to the descriptions given in the 19th century inventories. This section is called the Ottocento privato (private 19th century) given its domestic function, while the Ottecento pubblico (public 19th century) is located on the third floor of the museum.

The works exhibited here come from the “19th Century Gallery” that was established in 1861 thanks to the reorganization of artworks recovered from various Bourbon palaces, as well as a series of purchases after the Unification of Italy culminating in 1871. Subsequently, more artworks have been gifted during the 20th century by Neapolitan collectors, allowing total immersion in the culture of the 19th century. 

19th Century Apartments (19th century)Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Room 1: Antechamber

The paintings and sculptures in this room illustrate artistic themes common to Neapolitan art during the first half of the 19th century. In this private space, works of intimate dimension explore mythological subjects and ancient history, as well as interior views of important edifices in Naples. The Bourbons commissioned the interior views for their beauty and to document important religious celebrations in the city.

The Wall Table, with its wide variety of numbered marble pieces, showcases the materials available in Neapolitan workshops to transform and restore old tabletops. The carved stools, made of walnut painted white and gold, have been restored and reupholstered according to their description in the 19th century inventories.

After a decade of French rule, Ferdinand I assumed his throne in Naples in 1816 as King of the Two Sicilies. The Bourbons promoted, commissioned and collected art and created the biennial Bourbon Exhibition that showcased Neapolitan art. This room, indicated as the “Antechamber” in the 1874 inventories, thus presents the elegance of the court’s private chambers. 

The Twelve Provinces of Naples in the Presence of Francesco I (ca. 1825-28) by Nicola De LaurentiisMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Following the example of Vincenzo Camuccini (1771-1844), De Laurentiis allegorically depicts the Provinces of the Kingdom of theTwo Sicilies kneeling, as in submission, in the presence of Francis I of Bourbon, and his wife Queen Maria Isabella.

19th Century Apartments (19th century)Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Room 2: Writing Room

The Campania Felix (latin, fertile countryside) was a continual source of inspiration for Neapolitan and international artists. The landscape paintings exhibited here express the luxuriant countryside of Naples, Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast during the last thirty years of the Bourbon monarchy (ending 1861). They range from the analytical approach of Salvatore Fergola to the romantic disposition of Beniamino De Francesco.

This room is indicated as a writing room in the 1857 inventories. The green walls were a preferred color by the Bourbons for studioli (studies). Princess Maria Carolina Ferdinanda, daughter of Francesco I, used this room.

The monumental desk, drawers and paper-burning basket were originally intended for Ferdinando I’s writing room located on the first floor (room 22). They express a neoclassical taste characterized by their sobriety of form, decoration, and refined elegance, and date to the late 18th to early 19th centuries. The court’s craftsmen made the armchairs, with arms in the form of a sphinx, at the beginning of the 19th century. They present an Egyptian theme inspired by Napoleon’s conquest of Egypt. 

Bridge on the Calore River (1835) by Salvatore FergolaMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

This painting is an important historical testimony of the Maria Cristina bridge built on the Calore River in 1835, and subsequently destroyed by bombs during WWII in 1943.

19th Century Apartments (19th century)Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Room 3: Nanjing Color Gallery

The landscape paintings exhibited in this room are associated with the School of Posillipo, named after the hill on the bay of Naples that provided artists an ideal vantage point to paint the city below. Founded by Antoon Sminck Pitloo , the tradition of painting directly from nature was continued by Giacinto Gigante who influenced the brothers Giuseppe, Nicola and Filippo Palizzi. These paintings combine spontaneity with exacting observation and atmospheric lighting effects. Many of them depict locations throughout the Kingdom of Naples.

The furniture was made in 1838 by the artisan Michele di Lauro for a room in the Royal Casino of Queen Maria Isabella, located within the Royal Park of Capodimonte. The furniture is made in the Biedermeier style, characterized by its elegant sobriety and functionality. Today, the maple and rosewood furniture has been restored and recomposed to the queen’s original taste, imbuing the environment with a more welcoming ambiance.

This room is indicated as the Nanjing Color Gallery in the inventories of 1816 and 1829, referring to a famous tone of yellow. Today the room is repainted, inspired by its original tonality. 

View of Naples from Posillipo (1856) by Giacinto GiganteMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

This painting presents a view of Naples from via Posillipo. The artist immortalizes the Neapolitan landscape from this particular vantage point that became one of the most famous of the 19th century.

19th Century Apartments (19th century)Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Room 4: Drawing Room

This room presents sculptures by the famed Neapolitan artist Vincenzo Gemito, as well as leading painters of the School of Resina and the Verismo (realism) movement. Gemito is known for his technical mastery, draughtsmanship, and ability to imbue his figures with a living presence.

The School of Resina was committed to landscape painting, genre scenes, and lively brushstrokes. The Verismo (realism) movement was a forerunner of French Impressionism, where artists often worked outdoors (plein air) to capture natural light and color.

The room is called the “Drawing Room” in the 19th century inventories, where guests retreat for conversation. The paintings exhibited date to after the Unification of Italy (1848-1870) and constitute a new national language of expression by artists like Domenico Morelli, Giuseppe De Nittis and the Palizzi brothers.

The furniture is elegant, suited for everyday use, and was made in Naples. The furniture’s finely carved, painted, and gilded wood is of classical taste and was popular in France during the Late Empire period (mid-late 19th century), as well as throughout Europe. 

The Fisherboy (ca. 1876) by Vincenzo GemitoMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Gemito modelled the "Fisherboy" at the precocious age of twenty. Glancing at his catch while crouching, the boy’s wet hair indicates his recent emergence from the water as his net remains afixed around his waist.

19th Century Apartments (19th century)Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Room 5: "Bedroom"

Orientalist paintings and a series of female portraits are exhibited in this room. The paintings with oriental subjects were in vogue both at the court and with the new bourgeois classes during the 19th century. Although this room used to function as a bedroom (stanza da letto), today the environment recalls the ambience of a living room. The numerous artists who traveled to countries of Islamic culture as early as the 1840’s, recount in their paintings a vision of the East reworked in their studios upon returning to their home countries, thanks to the notes, drawings and photographs taken during their travels.

The set of furnishings – two consoles, chairs and armchairs, and the damask curtains of San Leucio silk complete with trimmings – were presumably executed during the 1820’s after the Bourbons returned to their throne following a ten year exile after the Napoleonic invasion, where the Bourbons enriched the Royal Apartmentes with sumptuous elements. The furnishings reflect late 18th century taste, although they demonstrate in some details the reception of the Empire style, which is a particular declination of the neoclassicim widespread at the court of Napoleon. 

Turks Smoking (ca. 1873) by Marco De GregorioMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

De Gregorio lived for three years in Cairo beginning in 1869. Returning to Naples with a large amount of sketches, life studies and photographs, he then employed these materials to create orientalist artworks in his workshop.

19th Century Apartments (19th century)Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Room 6: Retrocamera

This room was called the “Retrocamera” or “backroom” during the Bourbon and Savoy era. It was reserved as a private retreat for the royals. It has been possible to reconstruct this library from the Library of the Villa Portici, which is also a royal residence, thanks to the inventory of 1825 and the testimony of the writer August von Kotzebue.

The library furnishings illustrate the neoclassical taste for decorative arts. The desk and bookcases in the center of the room, equipped with green silk curtains, display an austere simplicity that in the 19th century was associated with ancient art. During the Bourbon Restoration (after 1816) this new style, which is more serious and less extravagant than much 18th century art, characterizes all of the room’s furnishings. The barometer on the entrance wall, for example, recalls a Greek temple, while the small round table with a bronze snake intertwining around its legs may be inspired by excavations at Pompeii.

And neoclassicism spread to all the arts, including fashion. On the walls, the portraits of the French sons of Francesco I demonstrate how their clothing follows the same model of sobriety as the furniture. 

Princess Clementina Mad.lle de Beaujolais, S.A.R. il Duca di Nemours, S.A.R. Prince of Joinville (1828) by Jean Dubois- DrahonetMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Dubois-Drahonet was commissioned by the Bourbon family of Orleans to create nine full-length portraits of their children. The children were born from the marriage of Louis Philippe, future King of France, and Maria Amalia of Bourbon.

19th Century Apartments (19th century)Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Room 7: Picture Gallery

This room is a tribute to the generosity of those Neapolitan collectors who offered paintings from their private collections as a gift to the 19th century (Ottocento) Gallery of Capodimonte. These paintings, which are small in size because they come from bourgeois apartments, allow us to grasp the cultural interests and tastes of the collectors during the 20th century, oriented towards deepening Italian modernity.

On the left wall, of the hundred examples taken by Alfonso Marino and of the donations of Giuseppe Cenzato and the Carelli family, are the most famous Italian artists of the late 19th century. Examples include Mosè Bianchi, Giacomo Balla and Armando Spadini, who, inspired by French Impressionists, imported the pictorial innovations of their studies on the chormatic and luministic effects of the landscape.

On the right wall, paintings by Gioacchino Toma - belonging to the group of thirteen works donated by his son Gustavo in 1961 - attest to the continuous changes in the figurative language of the artist. These include the two versions of a painting entitled Under Vesuvius in the morning (1882) and in the afternoon (1886).

Considering that the main core of the 19th century collection of Capodimonte was acquired by the Savoy, the collectors’ paintings allow us to present a complete vision of Italian 19th century artistic production - of which the bourgeois collectors, together with the Royal House, were among the main contributors. 

Parasites (1877) by Achille d'OrsiMuseo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte

Depicting two Romans ravished by the excesses of food and wine, this sculpture caused quite a stir due to its brutal realism of a deliberately unpleasant subject. It alludes to the decadence of the Roman world, parallel to the social claims of the mid-late 19th century.

Credits: Story

Curated by James P. Anno

Credits: All media
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