Vanvitelli & the Bay of Naples in the Early Eighteenth Century.
With the waning of Naples’s importance due to a number of factors: political upheavals; the death of wealthy patrons and collectors; and the exodus of major painter like Lanfranco to Spain, painting in Naples and Sicily went into decline. Later in the 18th century landscape would increasingly fuse with genre as in the paintings of Pietro Fabris (active 1756-1779 in Naples) a Neapolitan Canaletto; “pure landscape” however would become the territory of foreign artists drawn by the Bay of Naples and its views. One of the most significant was the Dutch painter, van Wittel, was better known in Italy as Gaspare Vanvitelli (1653-1736). Vanvitelli received his first training at Amersfoort, Holland, although he was in Rome by the time of the Jubilee of 1675. He worked as a draughtsman on a scheme for regulating the Tiber and this probably gave him the idea of making large and very accurate topographical drawings which could be worked up into 'vedute'; he therefore be the link between Dutch topographical painters like van der Heyden and later Italian 'vedutisti'. He is now recognized as an extremely important forerunner of painters like Carlevaris, Canaletto and Pannini, since there are dated Roman vedute by him of 1681. He went to Venice in the 1690s and there is a dated veduta of 1697 (Prado, Madrid), which antedates Carlevaris. He was in Naples in 1700, when his son Luigi, later the great Neapolitan architect, was born. He spent his last years in Naples and Rome, where he died. He was nicknamed 'Gaspare degli Occhiali' (Gaspar with the spectacles) from at least 1712, and his short sight may have prevented his working after c. 1730. Old sale-catalogues often refer to e.g. 'Two landskip by Ochiali'.