- Type: Museums
NileGuide Expert tip:
Although located a short distance away from the centro storico, this museum is home to one of Italy's top art collections.
Sitting in the middle of a magnificent park that once was a hunting preserve for the Bourbon kings, this museum was created by Carlo III di Borbone in 1743 to house his mother's art collection (she was Elisabetta Farnese and had her own share of the family's art endowment). Also on the grounds, the king founded the Capodimonte workshops in 1739 in his endeavor to develop a local high-end industry. The workshops produced artistic ceramics following a unique technique and style that made them famous around the world. The laboratories slowed down considerably in 1759, when the king left Naples to become king of Spain, but his son Ferdinando kept it going until 1805.
While the wooded park -- still called bosco reale (royal woods) by locals -- is a pleasant destination for a stroll (locals love to come here for family outings, especially on weekends), the museum is a prime destination for art lovers. In addition to its own huge collection, the museum hosts stellar annual exhibits. Note: You'll have to book your tickets well in advance if you are planning your visit during this yearly event.
While the 19th-century Gallery on the mezzanine level includes a number of interesting paintings, if this is your first visit, we recommend you head for the Farnese Gallery on the second floor, which features the stars of the collection, with several paintings by some of the best Italian artists -- Tiziano, Raffaello, Masaccio, Botticelli, Perugino, Luca Signorelli, Sandro Botticelli, Correggio, Giovanni Bellini, Mantegna, Parmigianino, Guido Reni, Caravaggio -- and by a number of the best artists from the Flemish school, such as Pieter Bruegel the Elder and Van Dyck. Besides paintings, the gallery holds sculptures and precious tapestries. Smaller but also worth a visit is the Borgia Collection, also on the second floor. It contains many precious Renaissance ivory and enamel pieces.
The Royal Apartments take up much of the second floor. In the Porcelain Gallery, you'll find a number of unique pieces, with objects and dinner plates from all the royal palaces of Naples, including bisquits (a firing process) of Sèvres and Vienna, and porcelains of Meissen and, of course, the famous Capodimonte ceramics created in the local workshops. Nearby is the De Ciccio Collection with more porcelain, but also paintings and precious objects. The Armory has interesting pieces, but is overshadowed by the famous Salottino di Porcellana, a small room completely inlaid with porcelain, made for Maria Amalia in the 18th century for the royal palace of Portici.
A gallery dedicated to "Painting in Naples from the 13th to the 19th Centuries" occupies the third floor, and provides a unique overview of artists who worked in Naples. It includes works by Sodoma, Vasari, Tiziano, Caravaggio, and Luca Giordano; here you can also admire the seven beautiful 16th-century tapestries from the d'Avalos Collection, and also their picture collection including work by Ribera and Luca Giordano. The contemporary art collection extends from the third to the fourth floor, with works by Alberto Burri, Jannis Kounellis, Andy Warhol, and Enzo Cucchi, among others. On the fourth floor you can also find a Photography Collection and the Galleria dell'Ottocento focusing on painters of the 19th century (Neapolitans, but also other Italians and foreigners).
- © Frommer's 2013
- Very Highly Recommended 2010
- User Rating