Thursday, September 16, 2010
The Odious Women Tour: Raped at nineteen by her art tutor in Rome and running up high debts with her husband in Florence, Artemisia Gentileschi moved to Naples as a single middle aged woman in about the year 1630. She hated the city "because of the fighting, and because of the hard life and the high cost of living." And yet, Gentileschi would spend most of the next twenty-six years of her life in Naples.
At that time, Naples was the largest city in southern Europe (three times the size of Rome) and the second largest city in Europe after Paris. Having established an excellent reputation for herself in northern Italy, Gentileschi found more abundant art commissions in the South. Many books and articles have been written about this exceptional artist, so for today I leave additional comments about her life to the experts.
But important for Naples, several of Gentileschi's works can be found at Capodimonte (specifically, on the second floor in room 87): Judith Slaying Holofernes, The Annunciation, and Lucretia.
Capodimonte is worth mentioning also as one of the finest museums in Italy. Built as a royal palace for Charles of Bourbon starting in 1738, it sits on a hilltop overlooking the Bay and Vesuvius. In 1742, the Baroque Italian architect, Ferdinando Sanfelice was put in charge of laying out the forests to cater to Charles of Bourbon's hunting passion. Today, the gardens cover 130 hectares and feature over 400 varieties of trees. Whether you want to stroll along the hilltop, see Caravaggio and Gentileschi, or enjoy the vast modern art section that includes Andy Warhol originals, Capodimonte is a wonderful destination in Naples.
Book Recommendation: Artemisia Gentileschi by Mary D. Garrard