Naples:life,death &
                Miracle contact: Jeff Matthews

Art Portal

Entries in Naples: Life, Death & Miracles dealing with art, sculpture,
and photography

Directly below this index are:
 miscellaneous art article #1
 miscellaneous art article #2
 miscellaneous art article #3
 miscellaneous art article #4

What's this? Click image.  

2 Statues
8 statues (and sculptors)
Art Gallery, National (Capodimonte)
art, modern (installation)
art, modern (museum)
art (stolen, Nazi)
Academy of Fine Arts 
Achenbach, Oswald
Anguissola, Sofonisba
Artemisia & Judith
Art theft
Art theft (large-scale looting)
baptistery of San Giovanni in fonte
Bearded Lady, the
Beffi (Master, triptych, of)
Byzantine art in the south (1)  (2)
Caravaggio exhibit
Caravaggio's "7 Works" on loan?
Caravaggio, the last
Carbone, Riccardo (photographer)
Carelli, Raffaele
Cavallini, P. in Naples
Chapel of Treasure of San Gennaro
Christ of Maratea (statue) 
Coleman, Charles Caryle
Crossing out beauty
De Dominici, Bernardo
Degas, Edgar
De Marinis, Fulvio
de Matteis, Paolo
Doryphorus (Spear Bearer)
Early Netherlandish Painting
early photography
Escher, M.C.
Eisenstaedt, Alfred
Ferrara, "Rosina", the muse of Capri
Fontana, Livia
Galizia, Fede
Garzoni, Giovanna
"Giant," the (fountain)
Gentileschi, Artemisia
Gigante, Giaquinto
Gioconda, la 
Girolamini, church reopened
Horse Tamers (statues)

Impossible Exhibit, the (2014)
Infiorata (flower petal mosaics)

installation art

Joli, Antonio
Jones, Lois Mailou
Kapoor, Anish
Laurito frescoes
Lear, Edward
Le Brun, Elisabetta
Migliaro, Vincenzo
Mon(n)a Lisa 
Monument fountains 
museum, archaeological
museum, archaeol. (staircase)
museum, San Gennaro
Napoli Underground art gallery
"Neptune" fountain
Opus Continuum
Other 19th Century, the (exhibit)
Painters of Neapolitan Baroque 
period postcards
Pitloo, Anton
Polykleitos (and The Spear Bearer)
Pompeii (art restoration)
Ragolia, Michele
Renoir, Pierre-Auguste
Royal Porcelain Factory
Salerno Ivories
Salvi, Selene (paintings) (2)
Sirani, Elisabetta
Siren's Last Song
Statuary in the Villa Comunale
Street art
Tree of Life mosaic in Otranto 
Vanvitelli (van Wittel), Gasparo(1) (2)
Veiled Christ
Volpe, Vincenzo
votive wall shrines

women painters

This is Miscellaneous Art Article #1      revised Dec. 17. 2019

A Remarkable Coincidence

(1) E.A. Robinson   (2) In Death - a painting  (3) A Tale of Two Academies

Believe it or not, what follows touches on all three.

I'm not aware that the American poet, E.A. (Edwin Arlington) Robinson (1869–1935) (image) was a painter, yet one of his poems is written from the point of view of a painter:

Her Eyes

UP from the street and the crowds that went, / Morning and midnight, to and fro,
     Still was the room where his days he spent, /And the stars were bleak, and the nights were slow.  
Year after year, with his dream shut fast, /He suffered and strove till his eyes were dim,           
   For the love that his brushes had earned at last,  And the whole world rang with the praise of him.    
But he cloaked his triumph, and searched, instead, /Till his cheeks were sere and his hairs were gray.      
        “There are women enough, God knows,” he said …“There are stars enough—when the sun’s away.”     
   Then he went back to the same still room /That had held his dream in the long ago,    
When he buried his days in a nameless tomb, /And the stars were bleak, and the nights were slow.         
And a passionate humor seized him there—/Seized him and held him until there grew       
Like life on his canvas, glowing and fair, /A perilous face—and an angel’s too.  
Angel and maiden, and all in one,—/All but the eyes. They were there, but yet    
 They seemed somehow like a soul half done./What was the matter? Did God forget? …    
  But he wrought them at last with a skill so sure /That her eyes were the eyes of a deathless woman          With a gleam of heaven to make them pure,  /And a glimmer of hell to make them human.  
God never forgets.—And he worships her /There in that same still room of his,     
      For his wife, and his constant arbiter/Of the world that was and the world that is.   
And he wonders yet what her love could be/To punish him after that strife so grim;    
 But the longer he lives with her eyes to see, /The plainer it all comes back to him.        
I passed the poem on to Selene Salvi. She is a friend, a painter, and a writer and usually has insight on these things. I  told her only that, as far as I knew, no one seemed to know who Robinson was talking about in the poem, but it must have been a woman he loved. I mentioned that he had never married.

I got more than I bargained for. Selene replied:

Beautiful. Thank you. It reminds me of the engraving (image) by Saro Cucinotta that reproduces a painting by Giovanni del Re. It was shown at the first exhibition of the Society to Promote Fine Arts in Naples in 1862.

...It's a small painting called Dopo morto [In death] that shows a "painter who has just died in poverty and misery. He is spread motionless on his tiny bed that takes up a corner of his small studio; a small cross lies on his breast; beside the bed you can barely see the fading shadow of a woman's figure the Madonna, come for the pure soul of the artist. In the background on the wall hangs a canvas draped with a garland of withered flowers; the painting is of a young woman. No doubt she was the love of his life. Strewn about are canvasses, palettes of colors, brushes and other items. A priest with a book under his arm leaves across the threshold; he has done what he came to do. Through the window pane there are some birds, heralds of death..." [Selene cites that description from Artisti napoletani viventi [Living Neapolitan Artists by E. Giannelli,1916].*1

The painting had enormous success. They must have known it would when they displayed it; it was the right choice to represent the exhibition and certainly in the spirit of the announced intent of the Society to Promote Fine Arts to provide funds for poor artists or those who... can no longer practice their art or live from it. The work was chosen and the engraving by Cucinotta given to members of the Society as a memento of the exhibit.2*
Selene reminded me again that she was not talking about the Naples Academy of Fine Arts, but a separate organization founded just after the unification of Italy (1861), not to combat the older Academy, but to have their own say at the start of a new age of Neapolitan art.
The time period was critical; there was no real market for art and only a few artists who could avail themselves of traditional religious or aristocratic commissions. Many risked poverty, and the youngest, with no financial means at all, had given up hope. A lot of time was spent in lengthy discussions on how to overcome the crisis, how to help those who had been left behind, how to open the way for a new way of “doing” art. And then Annibale Rossi proclaimed that the only true help for artists lay not in meetings and discussions but in finding a practical way to help them sell their paintings and statues.3*
After a few years of "new Italy," the two organizations merged.

She had a few words about the engraver, Cucinotta.

He was born in Messina in 1830 and was executed by firing squad in Paris in 1871. As Fusco writes, we have no way of knowing if he was an active participant in the Communard
movement, or perhaps only a Red Cross volunteer.4*
*The four notes are all from the essay IDEALS OF THE SOCIETY TO PROMOTE FINE ARTS IN NAPLES
(by Selene Salvi). The entire essay is on the Facebook page of Opus Continuum here.
Firing squad? What's going on? Readers should note that the 1860s and '70s were years of great agitation in a century of extreme agitation going back to the French revolution. The reference here is to the Paris Commune in 1871, but in southern Italy of the 1860s the tension of post-unification was just as bad. Life in general in Naples was uncertain. The city and much of the south was under martial law for the rest of the decade in order to combat lingering, active hostility from forces still loyal to the old Bourbon kingdom of Naples. Yet art went on, as it will, like the mounting pressure of water behind a cracked dam (the dam here is political repression). Sooner or later the water finds its way through the cracks and then we know what happens.

The similarity to the poem is remarkable. As to the Academy of Fine Arts of Naples (see index at top of this page):

a replica of Michelangelo's David in the Academy
It is among the oldest academies in Europe, founded in 1752 at the behest of Charles III of Bourbon. It was on the premises of the church of San Carlo alle Mortelle, site of a pre-existing sculpture workshop. In 1780 the academy was moved to the university (now the National Archaeological Museum) and moved again in 1864 (just after the Kingdom of Naples became part of united Italy) to the current premises, the ex-convent complex of S. Giovanni delle Monache. The nucleus of that convent goes back to 1593.

The convent was closed under the reign of Murat in the early 1800s, but later reopened. In the 1850s, a restructuring of this ancient area (adjacent to the submerged Greek walls of the city) included the demolition of a city gate and laying of a new street, dividing the convent church from the convent itself. The convent was then closed by the new united Italy and restored to become the new art academy by Errico Alvino (1809-1876), professor at the academy and the architect in charge of rebuilding the entire area. Alvino was from Rome but was very active in Naples. His architectural output was stunning,
both before and after the unification of Italy in 1861. Besides the Art Academy, his other works in the city include designing the façade of the church of S. Maria di Piedigrotta [1853], laying out (with others) the vital, long east-west road, Corso Maria Teresa (now the Corso Vittorio Emanuele II, completed in 1870); planning the restoration of the façade of the Naples cathedral; redesigning (with others) the seaside park, the Villa Comunale, and adjacent area; and designing the main train station (1866), eventually replaced in 1960).

(image, above, left: Facade of the main academy building on Via Santa Maria di Costantinopoli)

  This is Miscellaneous Art Article #2         

Jago & the Veiled Son

"The truth is that art cannot change events, cannot stop atrocities. But art can stand alongside beauty to foster togetherness and fellowship."
Those are the words of Jago name in art of Jacopo Cardillo a sculptor born in Frosinone near Naples in 1987. He currently lives in New York and has been exhibiting his works for about ten years. He came to more heightened attention when noted art critic Vittorio Sgarbi included him as part of the Italian Pavilion of the 54th edition of the Venice Biennale, where he presented a bust of then Pope Benedict XVI. 

Jago is in Naples to donate his latest sculpture il Figlio Velato (image, right) not to a museum, but to a local church in the Sanità quarter of the city within the Chapel of the church of San Severo (image, left) where it will be on permanent display, starting on 21 December, 2019.

The reference of the title is to the famous Cristo Velato (the Veiled Christ) (image, right) in the Sansevero chapel in Naples, which amazes everyone. You can't look at it without being moved in some way. Jago says: "That is one of the world's great artistic masterpieces." His work is called "Il figlio velato". His title in English, however, is misleading. He chose The Veiled Son, correct but misleading because the upper-case Son (as in a title) and Christ (in the original) leads to you think of the "Son" here as Christ, and that is not what his sculpture is about. Jago says it is obviously a citation of and tribute to the peerless original,
but it has nothing to do with the sacred spirit of Christianity. I want to tell a different story that of the innocent children in the world whom we sacrifice and consciously discard to violence, abuse, war and starvation. We throw millions of innocent children away."
[A better title, in my view, would be "The Veiled Child. jm]
Jago takes his work very seriously. He worked 10 hours a day for 4 years in New York using Danby marble from the state of Maine...
...exceptional material that lets me work as never before. I went to the quarry, I know the workers who cut the marble. I watched the whole process from start to finish. Every little step along the way is worth something.
And Jago's little steps along the way continue to be remarkable. Next year an Italian astronaut will bring home to Earth Jago's sculpture of The First Child, a small sculpture of a human embryo that is now aboard the International Space Station! Jago says he doesn't worry about his destination. Raise the bar every chance you get. The stops you make as you move through life are what count.
added June 2023-------------------

Jago now has a permanent exposition site in Naples on the premises of the church of  Sant’Aspreno ai Crociferi.

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This is Miscellaneous Art Article #3   added 15 March 2020 - still here!

The Case of the Missing Door-Mouse

Sorry, I misread that, but now that you ask, a door-mouse is (1) an incorrect (but much better) spelling of "dormouse", a nocturnal rodent known for its long periods of hibernation, and (2) a rodenty-looking character in "A Mad Tea-Party" from Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll.
1. Ingres, Jean-Auguste-Dominique -               
drawing from memory of la Dormeuse de Naples,    
on the back of his 1832 letter to Caroline Murat,      
(French National Library, Dept. of Manuscripts).       

What we are looking for, though, is a  dormeuse (you can well understand my confusion), specifically, La dormeuse de Naples, (The Sleeping Woman of Naples). Really, we want the famous painting of that lady since the lady, herself ―and there seems to be no doubt that she was a real person― is, sadly, as dead as a door-nail. A door-nail is a... (, wait...sorry). The quarantine now in effect in Naples is a good chance to stay indoors and ransack what is left of your poor home (where shelves and pantries have been stripped bare of edibles (such as wood), freeing up inedible nooks and crannies (although a cool Corona served over a fissure  is pretty tasty) where The Sleeping Lady might be hiding. Keep washing your hands and search thoroughly. This is either a case of big-time art theft or someone is sitting on a fortune and doesn't know it.

This is the royal couple of Naples. It looks
like an earlier painting (they were married
in 1802). It is not the work of Ingres.
La Dormeuse de Naples (original name: Donna nuda che dorme) was an 1809 painting by the French artist Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres  (1780-1867), the French Neoclassical painter. He was in Naples (then a Bonapartist client-state of France) to paint
and paint about the king and queen, Gioacchino Murat and Caroline (Napoleon's sister) (image shown). The painting was last seen in 1814 in the Royal Palace of Naples. It disappeared in 1815 after that palace was sacked following Murat's fall from power. The work was exhibited a number of times after its completion in 1809 and Murat then bought the painting for his wife, who, in 1814, commissioned la Grande Odalisque* as a pendant for the painting. A pendant is an ornament to a main painting. In this case, it was to be as large as the original Sleeping Lady. Ingres also painted a portrait of Queen Caroline, herself. It still exists. The pendant La Grande Odalisque still exists. Only the Sleeping Lady is missing. In 1832 Ingres returned to Naples with a sketch of the work done from memory to help with the search. (That image is the top image, above, on the right.) His described it as "a nude life-size female stretched out on a day-bed, her head resting on her left arm, which in turn rests on a cushion, with the right arm behind the head."
*Odalisque: a female slave or concubine in an oriental harem. I don't know whether "Grande" means that the painting was big or she was big.
Just few year ago in 2004 the painting was still missing, so Veroniqe Burnod, the "General Conservator" of the Museum of Cambrai in northeastern France paid a visit to the Capodimonte museum in Naples to see if they could help. She wanted the painting for her exhibit on painters who have depicted Napoleon (a long list that includes Ingres). In Capodimonte they have lots of stuff and, well... maybe in a storeroom know ... expensive masterpieces sometimes slip down between the sofa cushions... please ... come on. Have a look. She was met with raised eye-brows and assurances of "Madame, there must be some mistake. Everything we have is rigorously accounted for and listed. It is out of the question that we have that work here." No painting.

Ingres used the pose of the reclining female nude in other works. Many such paintings in western art derive  from the posture of the Sleeping Ariadne sculpture in the Vatican Museums (image, right.) It is a Roman copy of a Greek original. There  are many other Renaissance sources, as well, to compare to the missing Ingres work. A good one is Sleeping Venus (image, directly above) by Giorgione (alias of Giorgio Barbarelli da Castelfranco,  1477–1510). It is held in the Art Gallery of Old Masters in Dresden, Germany.

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This is Miscellaneous Art Article #4   added Feb 17 2023

    Justice and Beauty

Currently through March 15, 2023 at the Hall of Justice in the Naples Civic Center (Centro Direzionale): Art exhibit of Baroque painting, "Giustizia e Bellezza: drammaturgia del diritto nella Pittura Barocca" - (Justice and Beauty: the dramaturgy of rights in Baroque Painting). On display are 12 masterpieces of the Italian Baroqe by these arists:
Carlo Sellitto (1581–1614      Filippo Vitale (1585–1650);      Pietro Novelli (1603–1647);
Agostino Beltrano (1607–1665);     Giuseppe Piscopo (1609–1656);   Simone Cantarini (1612–1648);  Johann Carl Loth (1632–1698);   Luca Giordano (1634–1705);   G.B. Beinaschi (1636–1688); Giuseppe Bonito (1707–1789).
The organizers of the exhibition point out that the choice of venue (the Hall of Justice) is not an accident. The works on display are ones that have been taken back from the clutches of organized crime, as ever deeply involved in illicit art trafficking. So maybe there is something we can do about it.

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