The Pharmacy

1921: The Birth of Ars and Gaster

Gaming room by Nicola PlastinaMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

During the evenings they used to entertain themselves in the living room, sitting always in the usual leather sofa while, around them, there was a circle of members who preferred to spend their good time in friendly conversations.

Photos caricatural II series by Biagio MercadanteMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

The letter had the tone of those conversations that used to take place once in the Pharmacies, in which doctors and notaries usually met each other to gossip about the most famous families of the country.

Profile of Mario P. Costa by Enrico SaccettiMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

For this reason the members were named, with an ironic streak, “pharmacists”. After the death of the “pharmacist artists”,

Portrait of Vincenzo Caprile by Gaetano EspositoMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

Vincenzo Caprile remained alone as the only survivor of a group that dominated the artistic scene in Naples.

Portrait of the lawyer Paoli de Notaristefani by Giuseppe PellegriniMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

The president Count Paolo Caracciolo allocated a private little room for the pharmacists which, from 1921, became the seat of an artistic culinary association, Ars et Gaster, managed by Paolo de Notaristefani.

Self-portrait by Arnaldo De LisioMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

Arnaldo De Lisio decorated the room with tendentiously sarcastic panels, alluding to the “specialties” of the ancient pharmacy.

S. Gennaro by Arnaldo De LisioMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

One of these paintings depicts the partners with their protector: Saint Gennaro, the Patron Saint of Naples which stands out in the centre of the canvas, with all his reverence. The members dedicated to him three parodic lines: “that big beggar’s monk face/ it didn't seem real. How true death is! He overwhelms us all/ He has surpassed all the artists with this cheeky panel! What is certain is that if he hold out his hand, he will tip those jars off the shelf. That Saint Gennaro seems to bless the pharmacy with the bells”.

Poisons by Arnaldo De LisioMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

In the other panel there are jars "which contain harmless poisons that, in the past, were administered with doses of good humour, of slander that grazed but did not hurt, caustic spirit!”.

Societas Ars et Gaster by Eugenio VitiMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

The Marquise Paolo de Notaristefani (descendant of the Marquis of Caccavone) was elected lifetime president of the Ars et Gaster “Not only for his spirit, but also for his ability to contain, with sublime abnegation, the most abundant meals!”

Caricature of Paolo de Notaristefani (as the Roman leader Mario) by Raffaele FossataroMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

The distinguished jurist is depicted several times as a Roman warrior in the caricatures displayed in the room.

Ars et Gaster Society - Parody of the Triumph of Mario by Giuseppe de SanctisMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

In particular, Giuseppe de Sanctis has transformed the work "The Triumph of Mario" (painted by Francesco Saverio Altamura) into the Triumph of Paul, in which Paolo de Notaristefani is carried on a throne by Paolo Gandais and the son of Baron Carlo Chiarandà, which holds a huge fork; while in the centre is represented the sculptor Salvatore Cepparulo in monkey suits. On the right, the artists Vincenzo Volpe, Vincenzo Migliaro, Vincenzo Caprile and Vincenzo ad honorem de Sanctis are represented as flag bearers.

Caricature of Paolo de Notaristefani (as a deity of pastoralism) by Raffaele FossataroMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

Paolo de Notaristefani appears, again, in Raffaele Fossataro's work as a shepherd (despite his elegant clothing composed by a white jacket and shirt that distinguish his role as Chairman), with his ever-present cigar and his sly smile. He rests his hand on the shoulder of his faithful soldier, who can be identified with his partner Luigi Stravino in the guise of a shepherd that offers to him steaming food.
In the pockets of the jacket, he shows the offers received holding bottles of champagne and salami. The reference is to one of the sumptuous banquets organized by De Notaristefani and to the rules dictated by him.

Portrait of Mattia Limoncelli by Filippo CifarielloMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

An explanation of this sumptuous banquets is given to us by Mattia Limoncelli: “This is how the things had been going: the good Paolo de Notaristefani, on the eve of the banquet, used to choose an unfortunate host. The poor man was obliged to do everything he said. He was even forced to distribute soles, which were usually three per person. In addiction he had to roast a big leg of mutton prepared with a special thermal bath of oil vinegar. Finally, he had to prepare a salad of which only the Marquise held the secret, in which the proportions of mustard, anchovy cream, capers, and some methodical ingredient formed a complex mix that seemed to be the arcane medicines kept in the Pharmacies”.

Mask Factory by Raffaele FossataroMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

Raffaele Fossataro is the author of another painting exhibited in the Pharmacy of the Club: The Mask Factory. In this painting is depicted an old craftsman making papier-mâché masks, some of which reproduce the member’s heads. These masks can be seen in a photograph of the "Carnival of Nice" which took place in the the Club's salons in February 1931.

Piazza Dante (Caricatures of members) by Gaetano BocchettiMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

This news emerges in one of the "manuscript poetry notebooks", preserved in the archives of the Circle. Thanks to the same source and other documentation, we know that the masks were made by the sculptor Luigi de Luca with the collaboration of various painters. Among the masks depicted in the Fossataro’s painting, the big face of Paolo de Notaristefani stands out on the right again.

Caricature of Giovanni Pastore by Luigi de LucaMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

The papier-mâché made by the sculptor represents part of the members of the Association, each of whom played a role. For example, the lawyer Giovanni Pastore, who was the author of ironic madrigals offered in the occasion of the banquets, of which very little remains, because the Americans burned them during the period of the occupation; and Carlo Mola "skilful at making fun of those present”.

Caricature of Enrico De Leva by Luigi de LucaMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

Alfredo Gelanzè, always in the mood for jokes, played a prank to his partner maestro Enrico de Leva, the author of the song "Spingule francese", who boasted of his friendship with Pietro Mascagni. Alfredo Gelanzè sent him a telegram signed by Mascagni announcing the visit of his grandson to organize an event at the Club. Maestro Enrico De Leva, enthusiastic about the visit, did the honours and prepared a show in his honour.

Potrait of Gino Marinuzzi by Mario BuonsollazziMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

A big man “with a big mustache who was wearing dark glasses because of irritation to his eyelids" showed up. He immediately expressed impatience with the preparations for the performance in his honour. After having protested and used unsuccessful phrases against the maestro Enrico de Leva, without feeling any reason, he left the Circle arousing the indignation of the members. De Leva's anger poured out in a letter addressed directly to Maestro Pietro Mascagni. Fortunately the letter never delivered to his real recipient since the unsympathetic big man was none other than the Lawyer Alfredo Gelanzè, who had skilfully made up and disguised himself by Pietro Mascagni's nephew!

The diners by Paolo Emilio PassaroMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

The splendours and festivities continued for decades as recalled in the painting by Paolo Emilio Passaro in 1933 The Dinner of Cardinals, also known as the Dinner of Cardinals or The Banquet in which is represented the reconciliation between two members of the association, Gandais and de Notaristefani, after a quarrel sanctioned by a banquet that inspired a composition in verses which quips about the voracity of the diners.

Francesco Brunery, A Tedious Conference by Francesco BruneryMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

The painting is inspired by a French canvas, A Tedious Conference by Francesco Brunery. The gloomy setting of the room brings out the bright cardinals clothes of the guests in a happy symposium who, at the end of the meal, raise their cups to praise the expert chef (Don Paolo Gandais, the canteen attendant) accompanied by a little monk (Arnaldo De Lisio).

Caricature by Nicola PlastinaMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

In the painting are depicted the most remarkable members for their convivial good taste: law. Carlo Mola, eng. Gennaro Russo, law. Giulio Gagliardi, Giovanni Pastore, Alfredo, Giovanni Pastore, Gelanzè and Professor Cioffi.

Caricature of the waiter in charge of chess Domenico Gaeta by Franz ZaccariaMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

The work was used for the cover of the catalogue published on the 22nd December 1991 "The Art Collection of the Polytechnic Artistic Circle" edited by Luisa Martorelli (contributions by Adriano Gaito, Giuseppe Galasso, Luisa Martorelli, Nicola Spinosa and restoration sheets by Paola Fiore, Simonetta Funel and Luisa Martorelli).

Photos caricatural I series by Biagio MercadanteMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

The room contains the ironic aspect of the members who enjoyed themselves in acute speeches or

Village party. Blessing of the animals by Arnaldo De LisioMusap - Fondazione "Circolo Artistico Politecnico" Onlus

in goliardic parties.

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