CODART, Dutch and Flemish art in museums worldwide

Museo e Real Bosco Capodimonte

Information

Built by Charles of Bourbon (1716-1788), King of Naples and Sicily, as a palace to display the Farnese art collection he inherited from his mother, today the Capodimonte is one of the largest museums in Italy. Open to the public since 1957, the palace is located in a large park (the bosco) which forms an integral part of the museum campus. The Capodimonte is primarily known for its collection of Italian Renaissance and Baroque art, but also houses a sizable collection of more than 160 Dutch and Flemish paintings.

The best known Northern European works in the paintings collection are the two panels by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, namely The Blind Following the Blind (1568) and The Misanthrope (1568). Both are painted using the glue-size technique, which makes them very fragile. Among the earliest works are Jacob Cornelisz’s The Adoration of the Christ Child (1512) and Joos van Cleve’s The Adoration of the Magi altarpiece (ca. 1515). There are eight Joachim Beukelaer market scenes in the collection and just as many religious landscapes attributed to Henri met de Bles. From the seventeenth century there is a Road to Calvary, attributed to Jacob Jordaens, and an imposing Crucifixion of Christ (ca. 1621-1625) by Anthony van Dyck. In the sixteenth and seventeenth century a number of Dutch and Flemish painters were active in Naples. Of these, the Capodimonte houses paintings by Jan Soens (1547-1611), Aert Mijtens (1556-1601), Dirck Hendricksz Centen (1542-1618), Matthias Stom (ca. 1600-after 1645), and Louis Finson (1580-1617). The latter was a close friend of Caravaggio and his Annunciation (1612), made as an altarpiece for a Neopolitan church, shows the influence of this master. Many of Capodimonte’s Dutch and Flemish paintings are still considered anonymous or carry old attributions.

Of particular art historical importance is Bernard van Orley’s tapestry series The Battle of Pavia (ca. 1525-1531), which is included in the CODART Canon. It consists of seven large scale tapestries, commissioned by the States General and presented as a gift to Charles V in 1531.

The museum’s print collection, assembled by Carlo Firmian (1716-1782), consists of 123 albums of Old Master prints. Dutch and Flemish artists with dedicated albums are: Goltzius, Lucas van Leyden, Rembrandt, Rubens, Stradanus, Van Dyck, and Maerten de Vos. There are also a number of albums with prints by a variety of Dutch and Flemish artists.

Emma C. de Jong, The American Friends of Capodimonte Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow (October 2023)

Collection catalogues

La Collezione Farnese. 2: I Dipinti Lombardi, Liguri, Veneti, Toscani, Umbri, Romani, Fiamminghi. Altre Scuole. Fasti Farnesiani
Silvia Cassani and Nicola Spinosa
Naples, 1994-1995

Le Collezioni Borboniche e Post-Unitarie. 1: Dipinti dal XIII al XVI Secolo
Pierluigi Leone De Castris
Naples, 1999

Le Collezioni Borboniche e Post-Unitarie. 2: Dipinti dal XIII al XVI Secolo
Silvia Cassani
Naples, 1999

La Raccolta di Stampe di Carlo Firmian nel Museo di Capodimonte
Rossana Muzii Cavallo
Trento, 1984

Previous events since 1999