Campania Felix?

Reframing the Neapolitan Still Life

In: Nuncius
Joris van Gastel Bibliotheca Hertziana – Max-Plank-Institut für Kunstgeschichte, Rome

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Neapolitan still life painting, even though Italy’s most prolific “school” of the genre, has attracted little theoretical analysis. Where scholars have considered the genre almost exclusively in terms of stylistic developments and questions of attribution, this paper, alternatively, draws inspiration from insights formulated largely outside the field of art history: Umberto Eco’s characterization of still life paintings as “visual lists” and Michele Rak’s characterization of seventeenth-century literature in the Neapolitan dialect as “literary still lifes.” Building on these insights, this paper aims to explore the ways in which Neapolitan still life painting was anchored in local literary traditions and how, moreover, these literary traditions help us to understand the way in which these paintings resonate with the specific social and political situation that characterized Spanish Naples.

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