Enfilade

Exhibition | Neapolitan Drawings

Posted in catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 28, 2014

As noted at ArtDaily (25 March 2014) . . .

Dessins Napolitain / Neapolitan Drawings
Marty de Cambiaire, Paris, 25 March — 10 April 2014

01

Filippo Falciatore (actif à Naples 1718–1768),
Térée pourchassant Procné et Philomèle

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Marty de Cambiaire’s seventh show takes place in their offices, located on 16 place Vendôme, from 25 March to 4 April 2014. It focuses on a group of forty Neapolitan and Sicilian drawings dating from the 16th to the 18th century. A bilingual exhibition catalogue has been published, similar to their previous catalogues (which can be downloaded from their website). Given the scarcity of the literature on the subject, this publication provides fresh scholarship on a field still relatively unknown to the public as well as connoisseurs. There are very few Neapolitan drawings in public collections. They are equally rare far on the market. Therefore several years were required to build up a coherent group intended to illustrate 350 years of graphic production in Naples and Sicily. The ultimate goal of this venture, quite unprecedented in the old master drawing market, is to make a significant scientific contribution to the field.

Neapolitan drawing has long been a neglected research area. A few sporadic shows—some of which quite recent—have confirmed art historians’ strong interest in an area which remains largely unexplored. There is thus ample room for fascinating discoveries. The Neapolitan school (which includes the Sicilian school) is largely underrepresented in museums. Nor is it clearly identified as a distinct school, especially in comparison with other Italian schools such as the Florentine, Bolognese, Roman or Venetian ones. The Neapolitan school gives us the opportunity to examine draughtsmanship in its various aspects as an active practice, apprehended as a working method and not just as an intellectual concept destined to confer a social status to artists. Consequently their intention is to showcase the specificities of the Neapolitan school, through a group of 40 drawings dating between 1550 and 1800.

The prime concern in gathering them has been to focus on quality, condition and scholarly interest. It turned out to be a challenging venture given the traditional scarcity of Neapolitan drawings on the market. The gallery has decided to bring together artists such as Giordano and Solimena, already well-researched and known from the public, with other artists whose names are not so familiar but who were essential in the genesis of this school. It seemed equally important to illustrate the diversity of: the techniques used; the subjects illustrated; and the purpose of these drawings, which could be preparatory studies either for religious altarpieces or for decorative compositions, for book frontispieces or decorative pieces, or even intended as works of art per se.

The show explores successive periods in the Neapolitan and Sicilian graphic production. The earliest sheet presented is by a rare and precious artist, Leonardo Castellano (circa 1544–1588). This is complemented by two other 16th-century drawings by Francesco Curia (1538–1610), while Belisario Corenzio (circa 1558–1646) takes us into the 17th century. There big names such as Luca Giordano, Matia Preti and Salvator Rosa feature, alongside with lesser-known artists who deserve a reappraisal, including Cesare and Francesco Fracanzano, Battistello Carraciolo. and Aniello Falcone. Francesco Solimena and his pupils, Francesco De Mura, Francesco Celebrano, Giacopo Cestaro, Lorenzo de Caro and Campora are represented with several sheets which demonstrate how profoundly the master renewed the field of decorative painting. Solimena also revived the creative process itself, passing down to his pupils a method on which they firmly grounded their approach and developed their own talent. The final drawing in the collection’s chronology is a large sheet by Giuseppe Camarrano, a neoclassical artist rarely seen on the market. It illustrates the evolution of Neapolitan art towards a more European neo-classical taste.

One of the key criteria in the selection process was the condition of each drawing. However it is important to bear in mind that Neapolitan artists viewed their drawings not only as a mental projection but also as a hands-on device: assembled and pasted together, some sheets were thus pricked for transfer, while others bear the marks of working life in the studio. This show presents a varied and representative overview of the Neapolitan school. New attributions will be put forward, which will shed new light on certain artists. The gallery is thus hoping to provide a panorama of a rich, distinct graphic field.

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