Cultural Politics in Bourbon Naples, 1734-1799: Antiquities, Academies and Rivalries with Rome

Deupi, Jill Johnson, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Barolsky, Paul, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Fordham, Douglas, Department of Art, University of Virginia
Ward, Adrienne, Department for Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese, University of Virginia

This dissertation examines how political tensions between Bourbon Naples and Papal Rome affected visual culture in the former between 1734 and 1799. A parallel study of these two cities is particularly compelling for not only were they geographically linked, they had been locked into a relationship of feudal suzerainty since the twelfth century. Don Carlos di Borbón, son of King Philip V, infant of Spain, and, after 1734, King of the Two Sicilies, could not brook these ancients bonds of servitude, which interfered with his goal of establishing an independent state. The political trouncing of Rome was therefore politically imperative. Cultural propaganda played a critical role in helping him to meet his objective, for by besting the Eternal City in the visual arts Carlo knew he would be affirming Naples's cultural and, by extension, political superiority. To achieve these ends, the Sovereign very consciously emulated his rivals, the popes, by promoting Naples's antique patrimony, engaging artists and architects affiliated with the papal Rome and eventually embracing a neoclassicism al romano. The result was a curious dichotomy, in which the Eternal City, though treated as politically irrelevant, was at the same time regarded as a cultural touchstone. This strange dance of dismissal and emulation was continued under Carlo's son and successor Ferdinando IV, whose wife, the Austrian princess Maria Carolina, encouraged him to bait the papacy at every turn. The choreography of this complex ballet is dismantled and studied in the following six chapters.

Note: Abstract extracted from PDF file via OCR.

PHD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Digitization of this thesis was made possible by a generous grant from the Jefferson Trust, 2015.

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