National Gallery of Capodimonte. The pictorial collections (Raphael, Titian, Caravaggio)

Monuments, Museums

Let’s go back to talking about the most important ancient art gallery in Naples, one of the richest in important works in Italy and which is part of the panorama of the great art galleries of Europe, that is the National Gallery of Capodimonte.

Visiting it is more than an obligation for all art lovers visiting Naples thanks to its beautiful collections that contain works of the highest international importance.


Once on the first floor of the building, rooms 2 to 30 house this collection. The very first elevation in front of us once entered is that of the works of artists such as Titian Vecellio and Raphael Sanzio; portraits of prominent personalities of the Farnese family, such as the Portrait of Paul III and the Portrait of Paul III with his nephews Alessandro and Ottavio Farnese, by Titian, or as the Portrait of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, painted by Raphael.

There are also works by Giorgio Vasari and Andrea del Sarto, as well as sculptures by Guglielmo Della Porta and a large tapestry depicting the Sacrifice of Alexander.

Once past this room, the next one is entirely dedicated to the small Crucifixion by Masaccio; which, however, is not part of the Farnese collection, but is a purchase of 1901 by a private individual to the museum as a work of an unknown fifteenth century and only later considered the central compartment of the Polyptych of Pisa that Masaccio had made for the church of Carmine in the capital of Pisa, then divided into several pieces kept in other museums around the world.

In room 4 there are four charcoal drawings: two by Michelangelo Buonarroti, one by Raphael and one by Giovan Francesco Penni, a pupil of the latter; the drawings belonged to the historian and humanist Fulvio Orsini, and were later inherited by the Farnese family.

The following rooms contain works of great importance for the Renaissance and for Italian Mannerism: The Holy Euphemia by Andrea Mantegna, the Transfiguration of Christ by Giovanni Bellini, the Madonna del Velo by Sebastiano del Piombo, the copy of the Last Judgement by Michelangelo painted by Marcello Venusti, evidence of the fresco before the censorship by Daniele da Volterra.

Room 11, on the other hand, houses Venetian-style works, in particular some of Titian’s mature paintings such as the famous Danae; or works by a young Dominikos Theotokópoulos, better known as El Greco, a pupil of Titian and court painter of the Farnese family, of the latter, worthy of note is Ragazzo che soffia su un tizzone acceso, a work in a strong chiaroscuro key, which seems to be a forerunner of more modern times.

Room 12 contains one of the most important collections of Emilian painting of the 16th century in the world, the result of the Farnese’s collecting and the confiscation of some families from Piacenza and Parma who had planned a conspiracy against Ranuccio Farnese; among the artists: Correggio, with his sacred and mythological themes and human figures with soft shapes and soft colors, Parmigianino, one of the protagonists of Italian Mannerism.

Girolamo Mazzola Bedoli, Benvenuto Tisi da Garofalo, Dosso Dossi, Lelio Orsi and Ippolito Scarsella, are artists who live in this part of the exhibition. To complete the room there are some marble busts from the Roman era.

The following rooms contain Lombard, Flemish and Germanic works. Among the most important works in this part of the gallery are two masterpieces by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, the Parable of the Blind and the Misanthrope, which represent part of the artist’s more mature phase; they were purchased by Cosimo Masi, secretary to Prince Alexander, and confiscated by the Farnese from one of his heirs, Giovanni Battista Masi, in 1611.

Other works of great importance between room 20 and room 30 are those of the Carracci school, the experience of the academy of incamination, L’atalanta e ippomene by Guido Reni, and other works by Bartolomeo Schedoni, Federico Barocci and Giovanni Lanfranco.

International painting is represented by artists such as Rubens, Antoon Van Dyck and Daniel Seghers. The work Landscape with the nymph Egeria by Claude Lorrain is very beautiful.


The second floor from room 63 to 102 houses the important collection called Neapolitan Gallery.

It is composed of forty-four rooms and houses mainly paintings, but we can also find sculptures and tapestries made by Neapolitan artists or by personalities not of the place but who have worked or sent works in the city thus influencing and enriching the local school in a period between the thirteenth and eighteenth centuries.

In the first rooms are housed works of different types, demonstrating the complexity of the artistic achievements of the territory. This part of the exhibition includes the Polyptych with stories of the Passion, in alabaster and wood manufactured in Nottingham, a tapestry depicting the Deposition from the Cross and several wooden statues by Giovanni da Nola.

The first work of considerable importance is the Madonna of Humility by Roberto d’Oderisio, in room 64.

The same room shows the influences that the arrival of the Angevin dynasty and that of their courteous world had on Neapolitan art; in fact, the new sovereigns brought important works of requalification to the city, with the construction of palaces and churches that must therefore be subsequently decorated.

And the artists called to this work are inspired by Giotto, personally present in the city, and his workshop: this is the case of the exhibits in this room as Roberto d’Oderisio, with his Crucifixion and Our Lady of Humility and the Sienese Andrea Vanni with St. James the Apostle.

In the next room you can see the influences of the Hungarian branch of the dynasty of Anjou, in particular Charles III of Naples and Ladislaus I of Naples, the latter who commissioned works by an anonymous painter now known as the Master of the Stories of St. Ladislaus. The latter two sovereigns, constantly engaged in military campaigns, encouraged the presence in Naples of numerous artists, mostly from Tuscany, such as Niccolò di Tommaso.

Room 66 is exclusively dedicated to Simone Martini’s masterpiece, San Ludovico di Tolosa, which crowns his brother Robert of Anjou: the panel, which still falls in the Angevin period of Naples, was commissioned by Robert of Anjou, to commemorate and celebrate his brother Louis who renounced the throne of the kingdom after joining the religious life. Very particular is the setting that gives further monumentality to the work.

From then on, an important collection of 16th century marble sculptures is collected, an artistic production in which Naples stands out particularly with artists such as Girolamo Santacroce and Giovanni da Nola. These are decorative elements of works previously housed in several ancient churches and convents in Naples.

Of particular importance is room 72 where the paintings of Polidoro da Caravaggio, a pupil and assistant of Raphael, who was trained in Rome in the first half of the sixteenth century and then worked briefly in Naples, are exhibited. Among the paintings on display are the Andata al Calvario, the Deposizione, San Pietro and Sant’Andrea, which highlight his immense creativity and his restless character.

In the following rooms the museum pays attention to the relationship between the viceroy of Naples Pedro Álvarez de Toledo y Zúñiga and Tuscany; in this period an intense cultural exchange between Naples and Florence or Siena is created, clearly visible in room 74 where artists such as Marco dal Pino, a pupil of Beccafumi, long active in the city, the Sodom, and, mainly, Giorgio Vasari, with the Dinner in the Pharisee’s house and the Presentation in the Temple, find space.

The main work in room 75 is Titian’s Annunciation, a rare example of Venetian painting in Naples, a work that was originally located at the Pinelli chapel in the church of San Domenico Maggiore, in the heart of Naples’ historic centre.

The following rooms, with their works, mark the peak of Neapolitan art of the sixteenth century, with artists who propose sacred representations that spoke clearly to the faithful. Here we find artists such as Scipione Pulzone, Ippolito Borghese and his brushstroke nuanced in the Pietà, Fabrizio Santafede, an artist very close to popular culture, and Luigi Rodriguez, also characteristic works of Cavalier d’Arpino, one of the last miniaturists active in Naples, especially in the monastery of San Martino.

Room 78 is completely dedicated to the Flagellation of Christ by Michelangelo Merisi known as Caravaggio, a work that marks the beginning of the important season of the Neapolitan seventeenth century, which will soon find its stylistic characterization thanks to several artists in the area.

In this city Merisi was active between 1606 and 1607 and then returned between 1609 and 1610 contributing to radically transform the painting of the capital that until then was characterized by a decorativism considered excessive by the master, which instead transformed it into a simpler, essential and darker painting, which is also reflected in the alleys of the city, a way until then ignored, and then addressed, especially from the second decade of the seventeenth century, in which they laid the foundations for Neapolitan naturalism.

The masterpieces of the seventeenth century Neapolitan find space in the rooms immediately following the work of Caravaggio. Battistello Caracciolo, Artemisia Gentileschi, Simon Vouet, Massimo Stanzione with the Sacrifice of Moses and the Martyrdom of Saint Agatha, Pietro Novelli, Cesare Fracanzano and Jusepe de Ribera known as the Spagnoletto with the Magdalene in meditation, Eterno Padre, Trinitas terrestris and San Girolamo and the Angel of Judgement. Another masterpiece by this artist is the Sileno Ebbro, oil on canvas rich in mythological, theatrical and natural elements.

To complete the painting of the seventeenth century, a great Neapolitan master Luca Giordano with his way of painting anticipates the eighteenth century and the Rococo present in the following rooms. Among the masterpieces that we can admire of this artist, a series of altarpieces that adorned the Neapolitan churches as time: The Ecstasy of St. Nicholas of Tolentino, the Elemosine of St. Thomas of Villanova, the Madonna of the Canopy, the Madonna of the Rosary and the Holy Family has the vision of the symbols of the Passion.

To conclude the journey through the history of painting in Naples, the rooms dedicated to the mature eighteenth century with artists such as Gaspare Traversi, Giacomo del Pò, Domenico Antonio Vaccaro and Francesco de Mura.


Address: Via Miano, 2, 80131 Napoli NA

Timetable: Mon-Sun 8.30 am – 7.30 pm (Wednesday closing day) –

12 full price –

€ 2 reduced for visitors aged between 18 and 25 years

– 4 second floor museum ticket including exhibition on days with free admission and for holders of artecard.

Free admission for children under 18