Museo Nazionale di San Martino, Gabinetto Disegni e Stampe
The Museo Nazionale di San Martino, set up in the large spaces of the ancient Charterhouse, opened to the public in 1866 and, a few years later, in 1873, it also began to welcome graphic material, acquiring, thanks to the gift of Abbot Masseangeli, its collection of fundamental importance entirely dedicated to the drawings of the Dutch landscaper Caspar van Wittel and his son, the architect Luigi Vanvitelli. This first acquisition is fully part of the cultural policy desired by the founder Giuseppe Fiorelli, who intended to collect and safeguard in his museum as many testimonies as possible of the art and history of Naples and his reign, by then cancelled by the birth of the Italian State. Gifts, bequests and purchases, which have flowed over the decades, also contributed to compose a truly remarkable heritage of about 10,000 drawings and 8,000 prints. Obviously, this does not mean that the collection does not also have a national and international scope given that Naples had been a capital city fully inserted in the European cultural circuit. An example of this is the Ferrara Dentice fund, which also came by donation, which with its 2,768 drawings and 3,057 prints constitutes the richest nucleus of the museum's graphic heritage. The collection includes a fundamental sector of about 600 "ancient" drawings of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by Italian and especially Neapolitan artists, including Massimo Stanzione, Bernardo Cavallino, Luca Giordano, Francesco Solimena, and Corrado Giaquinto. The conspicuous collection of works (347) by Giacinto Gigante, a sublime watercolourist, and of other exponents of the so-called School of Posillipo is also fundamental with regard to the nineteenth-century production. The contextual presence in the same collection of a nucleus of about 550 drawings by Danish artists mainly from the nineteenth century, purchased during a stay in Copenhagen, testifies to the donor's intellectual curiosity. The collection of over 3,000 prints of the Ferrara Dentice is quite varied, made without a precise scientific criterion but for this very reason able to provide, if carefully examined, important examples of the seventeenth and eighteen centuries, as well as compact nuclei - such as the one relating to Giovanni Battista Piranesi - and prints collected in ancient volumes. Another rich and important fund, much sought after by scholars of architecture and urban planning, is the one that collects hundreds of drawings, sketches for theatrical sets and floor plans of the undisputed protagonist of Neapolitan architecture of the first half of the nineteenth century, Antonio Niccolini, known above all for the reconstruction of the Teatro di San Carlo and for the neoclassical jewel of the Villa Floridiana. Returning to the historical-artistic and documentary vocation of the Museo Nazionale di San Martino, we must finally remember the many acquisitions of materials (be they drawings, watercolours, gouaches or prints) received from disused Bourbon dicasteries, antique dealers, small collectors, heirs of artists or artists themselves, and so on, which testify to specific sectors such as uniformology and military life, the portraits of sovereigns and historical figures, the uses and customs of the Kingdom, the views - among which particularly relevant are those of the archaeological sites and Vesuvius, the genius loci of Naples.
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