Raphael’s Madonna del pesce returns to Naples

Gli Spagnoli a Napoli at the Museum and Real Bosco di Capodimonte.

For the first time, after 400 years, Raphael’s Madonna del pesce returns to Naples, the painting which was a point of reference for the artists of the “Southern Renaissance” and which was transferred by the Spanish rulers to Madrid around the middle of the seventeenth century.

An opportunity to review the work, located in its “territory” of origin, is the exhibition “The Spaniards in Naples.

The Southern Renaissance” from Monday 13 March at the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte thanks to a project carried out in partnership with the Prado Museum.

On the bill until 25 June, the exhibition project curated by Riccardo Naldi, professor of modern art history at the L’Orientale University of Naples and by Andrea Zezza, professor of modern art history at the University of Campania “Luigi Vanvitelli “, has already seen a first release in Spain where it has had considerable success with critics and audiences.

The exhibition is dedicated to one of the most fruitful and least known moments of Neapolitan artistic civilization: the thirty years at the beginning of the sixteenth century, a period which, from a political point of view, saw the extinction of the Aragonese dynasty, with the passage of the Kingdom of Naples under the dominion of the Crown of Spain.

From a cultural point of view, however, it marks the achievement of the apex of its great humanistic season: the artistic innovations elaborated in those years by Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael were promptly incorporated and reinterpreted in an original way in a still very lively Naples, for which the loss of the function of autonomous capital did not constitute an obstacle to cultural development, but, on the contrary, contributed to the definition of a new role of transmission belt of Renaissance culture between the two shores of the Mediterranean.

A happy season of cultural exchange of which the exhibition highlights the very high quality of the works and their cosmopolitan character, focusing on the very close connection between painting and sculpture. In fact, the confrontation between the so-called “sister arts” found particularly fertile ground in Naples and the exhibition offers a wide selection of them, proposing the major protagonists, from the painters Andrea da Salerno and Marco Cardisco, to the sculptors Giovanni da Nola and Girolamo Santacroce.

If at the Prado, in the Otro Renacimiento exhibition, the inspiration was concentrated on the forms and volumes of Neapolitan architecture, at Capodimonte, however, the focus is precisely on the dialogue between the pictorial and sculptural works.

But the main difference between the exhibition in Naples compared to that in Madrid is the strong link with the territory: many of the works by the artists of the period are present in the city churches (thanks to an agreement with the Municipality of Naples it will be possible to visit the Spanish in some churches of the city), in particular San Giovanni a Carbonara, San Domenico Maggiore, Santi Severino and Sossio and San Giacomo degli Spagnoli.

And it is precisely in the Basilica of San Domenico Maggiore that the strongest link between the exhibition and the city is perceived: Raphael’s Madonna del pesce, exhibited in the Sala Causa at the Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte, was in fact created for the Chapel of the the Doce (or Santa Rosa) family right in San Domenico Maggiore.

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