Apologies for the scarcity of posts of late. No time to blog because of writing lectures, conference papers, proof-reading, administration and teaching. To make up for it, here's a brief survey of baroque painting in Naples taken from my lecture notes and the writings of various seicento scholars.
Pre- Baroque phase.
No native school of painting in existence before the 17th century. However, Vasari visited Naples in 1544 and patrons in Naples looked outside to recruit early renaissance artists like Cavallino, Giotto and Colantonio (pupil of Antonello di Messina). High Renaissance paintings by Titian (Annunciation) and Raphael (Madonna of the Fish) in Naples- below. Interest in Flemish artists by Neapolitan painters in mid 16th century. Paul Bril, a Flemish landscape artist, painted in Naples, in 1602. His views of bosky groves may have inspired Salvator Rosa, a native.
First Caravaggio-esque phase.
Neapolitan Baroque painting starts here, 1606-7, the year Caravaggio swept through the city. Three significant altarpieces: The Flagellation, Seven Acts of Mercy- below- and the Crucifixion of St Andrew. Caravaggio's influence on local paintings probably dates from 1608; also, Louis Finson, a Fleming, stayed in Naples until 1612 painting copies after Caravaggio. Caracciolo painted religious pictures on a small scale and worked for some of Caravaggio's patrons; his Salome owes much to Caravaggio's version (London).
Spanish artist Jusepe Ribera (Spagnoletto) moved from Rome to Naples in 1616. Though familiar with Caravaggio's Roman manner, he did not start signing his pictures until the 1620s when he was confident he had assimilated Caravaggio's style into his Neapolitan painting. Ribera's Drunken Silenus (Naples) – below- is an interesting blend of Caravaggio, Rubens and the prints of the Carracci. Flemish art does slightly influence Ribera in his later period: the flamboyant drapery in Apollo and Marsyas is reminiscent of Van Dyck, whose paintings were in the Antwerp merchant Gaspar Roomer's collection. Ribera lived and worked in Naples for the rest of his life.
From Rome came the French painter Simon Vouet, who is likely to have visited Naples about 1620. Two of his pictures have been connected with Neapolitan clients: the Circumcision- below- and St Bruno being given the Rule. Though these two paintings, especially the Circumcision, show Caravaggio's influence, they also demonstrate knowledge of the lighter palette of Lanfranco and Bolognese classicism. It was this stylistic détente that served Vouet as he moved towards a more international style.
One of the greatest exponents of Bolognese classicism was Guido Reni. While in Naples on his second visit during 1621-2, he painted the delicate and naturalised Meeting of Christ and St John which had an influence on painting in the city. Artemesia Gentileschi was one of the painters who began to outgrow her Caravaggism in favour of a more classical painting. She probably arrived in Naples about 1629-30. A formidable lady, she seems to have actively engaged with other painters rather than producing works in isolation for sale outside Naples, although she did that too. Her Annunciation (Naples) mixes Caravaggio's chiaroscuro and Vouet's colour quite effectively while the figures in her Corisca and the Satyr- below- betrays the influence of Reni. Mention should also be made of Stanzione, ' the so-called Guido Reni of Naples'. His Massacre of the Innocents conflates the grotesque horror of Ribera with Reni's version of the Massacre (Bologna). Poussin's Massacre (Chantilly) seems another point of reference.
Neo-Venetianism and the High Baroque in Naples.
From the 1630s there is marked movement away from solid forms towards a more painterly art, more Venetian in look. The realism of Ribera and the classicism of Stanzione was exchanged for a wave of painting that could be called neo-Venetian, but this new painterliness was not a reaction against previous art- it expressed the wish to paint more broadly. In addition, there was the influence of the pictures of Rubens and Van Dyck, whose Feast of Herod (Edinburgh) – below- and Susannah and the Elders (Munich) were in the collection of Gaspar Roomer. Also, works by Pietro da Cortona and Lanfranco had arrived in Naples while Neapolitan artists went to Rome and studied ceiling paintings there. It is true to say that Naples did not experience a "crisis of painterliness' as Rome, since naturalism and classicism remained with the new style in Naples. It was only after 1656- the year of the plague- with the work of artists like Preti and Giordano that painting in Naples began to catch up with the high baroque in Rome.
1606-7- Caravaggio in Naples.
1610- Death of Caravaggio at Porto Ercole.
1612- Finson leaves Naples for Antwerp.
1615- Salvator Rosa born
1616- Arrival of Ribera from Rome.
1620- Possible visit of Vouet.
1621-2- Reni's second visit.
1629-30- Arrival of Artemesia Gentileschi.
1630- Arrival of Domenichino from Rome; Velasquez in Naples.
1631- Eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
1633- Arrival of Lanfranco in Naples.
1634- Gaspar Roomer's gallery established; birth of Giordano.
1635- Death of Caracciolo.
1640- Rubens's 'Feast of Herod' enters Roomer's collection.
1641- Death of Domenichino in Naples.
1647- Revolt of Masaniello.
1652- Death of Ribera.
1656- Plague breaks out; Preti arrives; Stanzione dies.
1674- Death of Gaspar Roomer.