The Borbone Album

Fifty-seven watercolours painted by Giacinto Gigante (1806-1876)
and his Royal pupils; the Borbone Princes Francesco, Luigi,
Alfonso, Gaetano, and Princess Maria Annunziata di Borbone
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6pm Thursday 19th June

Thursday 31st July 2014

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An illustrated catalogue for the exhibition is available on request.

CLICCA QUI PER LEGGERE QUESTA PAGINA IN ITALIANO
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Introduction
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Album-web

     The evidence suggests that this group of fifty-seven watercolours was collected into the album in which we acquired them for reasons more sentimental than artistic.

     The signatures on those of them that are signed are of five of the Borbone children of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies. The album bears the bookplate of the last sovereign Duke of Parma, husband to their younger sister, Princess Maria Pia di Borbone (1849–1882). The Princess probably considered them as actually being by the brothers and sisters who had signed them. It is probable that she was given them by those siblings and took them into her marriage in 1869 as mementos of their early years. That it was Giacinto Giganti, the accomplished watercolour painter and leader of the School of Posillipo and appointed their painting instructor by the King, who had in fact painted by far the larger part of most of the watercolours was possibly of secondary consideration. The variable quality within the Collection supports this idea; the younger sister treasured whatever remained from a time which by 1861 had been destroyed by revolution.

BookPlate-web

     The emergence of this Album confirms what Dr Luisa Martorelli, the authority on both Gigante and the School of Posillipo, has suspected for many years; that although Gigante was a very good watercolour painter he was not a demanding teacher. He ‘taught’ his royal pupils by painting variants of a particular composition or landscape which they, who were between the ages of only 9 and 19 in 1855, could then ‘complete’. The addition of a figure or two appears to have been sufficient, however, in some the less accomplished details and more crudely handled passages of paint point to a proper amateur enthusiasm. There is visual evidence that Gigante then ‘improved’ the more glaring of the ‘additions’, no doubt before display to the royal papa. Pragmatic as to his responsibilities as a courtier he managed the situation so that both he and the children could be shown to the best advantage. The Czarina of Russia had previously selected him as the painting instructor to accompany her on her 1845 trip to Sicily – an album of those views exists (unseen) in St Petersburg – and it may be that this teaching practice was established on that trip.

     Dr Martorelli confirms that the sepia works were produced in the same vein by Achille Vianelli (1803–1894) to whose sister, Eloise, Gigante was married and who was his companion from an early age. Four (nos.31, 32, 36, 39) do not suggest either of these masters but demonstrate the use of lithographs or drawings by British or French artists as
models.

     We are extremely grateful to Dr Martorelli, Museo di San Martino, for her help in cataloguing this Collection. Her knowledge and understanding of Gigante and the School of Posillipo is unparalleled. As is typical of youthful and developing ‘artists’ the monograms of the royal students take varying, experimental forms and the distinction between ‘being signed’ and ‘being inscribed’ is sometimes unclear. Where she and we feel unable to attribute authoritatively we have made plausible suggestions, or left the royal pupil unspecified.

     This Collection provides the fascinating opportunity to study the working practice of a mid-nineteenth century painting master to a royal court.

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Giacinto Gigante and the School of Posillipo

     The ‘School of Posillipo’ describes that group of nineteenth century artists who pioneered the practice of painting en plein air in Naples during the decades following the fall of Napoleon. Against the grain of academic practice this approach established a break with formalized landscape painting which is now recognised as an element of the development of Impressionism. Giacinto Gigante was initially trained as a mere topographer, however, his after-hours studies in the sophisticated, unorthodox Neapolitan studios of two foreign artists – the German, Wilhelm Jacob Huber and the Dutchman, Anton Sminck Pitloo – introduced him to the importance of ‘on the spot’ painting. With them he learnt to paint his beloved surroundings both naturalistically and atmospherically. He was a virtuoso watercolour painter and watercolour was the perfect medium in which to both record and capture a ‘modern’ vision of the Bay of Naples. The Royal patronage of both the Czar of Russia and of King Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies assisted in establishing Gigante as the acknowledged leader of the School of Posillipo, and the works of that school as characteristically Neapolitan.

Selected Bibliography

Sergio Ortolani, Giacinto Gigante e la pittura di paesaggio a Napoli e in Italia dal ‘600 all’800, a cura di Luisa Martorelli, Franco Di Mauro Editore, 2009.

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Gigante’s Royal Pupils
Children of Ferdinand II of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies
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Prince Francesco d’Assisi (1836-1894)
(King Francesco II, ruled 1859–1861)
(Known to his father as ‘Lasa’, ‘Laso’ or ‘Lasso’)
No.1
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Prince Luigi Maria di Borbone, Count of Trani (1838–1886)
Nos. 2 and 3
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Prince Alfonso Maria di Borbone, Count of Caserta (1841–1934)
Nos. 4 – 13
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Princess Maria Annunziata di Borbone,
Archduchess Karl Ludwig of Austria (1843-1871)
(Known to her father as ‘Ciolla’)
Nos. 14 – 26
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Prince Gaetano Maria Federico di Borbone,
Count of Girgenti (1846–1871)
Nos. 28 – 36
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Prince Francesco d’Assisi (1836-1894)
(King Francesco II, ruled 1859–1861)

(Known to his father as ‘Lasa’, ‘Laso’ or ‘Lasso’)

Francesco II

The only son and heir of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies (1810-1859) by his first wife, Maria Christina of Savoy (1812-1836), Francesco II was the last Borbone King of Two Sicilies. He reigned for only two years (1859-1861) before he was deposed.
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Prince Luigi Maria di Borbone (1838-1886), Count of Trani

Luigi Maria

The second son of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies (1810-1859) and his second wife, Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria (1816-1867), Prince Luigi Maria married Matilda of Bavaria (1843-1925) in 1861.
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Prince Alfonso Maria di Borbone (1841-1934), Count of Caserta

Alfonso

The third son of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies (1810-1859) and his second wife, Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria (1816-1867), Prince Alfonso Maria married Princess Maria Antonietta di Borbone (1851-1938).

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Princess Maria Annunziata di Borbone (1843-1871)
Archduchess Karl Ludwig of Austria

Maria AnnunziataThe fourth daughter of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies (1810-1859) and his second wife, Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria (1816-1867), in 1862 Princess Maria Annunziata married Karl Ludwig Archduke of Austria (1833-1896), the brother of Emperor Franz Joseph I (1830-1916). Her first son was Franz Ferdinand (1863 – assassinated Sarajevo 28th June 1914).
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Gaetano Maria Federico di Borbone (1846-1871) Count of Girgenti

GaetanoThe seventh child of Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies (1810-1859) and his second wife, Maria Theresa, Archduchess of Austria (1816-1867), Prince Gaetano Maria married Isabella, Princess of Asturias (1851-1931) twice recognized as the heir presumptive to the Spanish throne, in 1868.
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Works signed with an indistinct monogram or unsigned / uninscribed
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