View of Naples with the Lighthouse, Vesuvius beyond, 1830
Signed and dated "F. Vervloet Napoli 1830" lower right
Oil on canvas
59 x 77 cm / 23 x 30 ¼ in.
Baron F. Van Hogendorp
(purchased from the artist on 9 May 1831) thence by descent;
Frans Vervloet arrived in Rome in 1822, as acknowledged by Denis Coeckelberghs in his 1976 essay on the painter, which formed part of the wider work Les peintres belges à Rome de 1700 à 1830. Vervloet too noted in his diary “Le 5 avril je suis nommè par la Société des Beaux-Arts pour aller à Rome pendant deux ans” (“On 5th April I was appointed by the Society of Fine Arts to go to Rome for two years.”) The artist’s diary, Sa vie, is kept at the Museo Correr and constitutes the most important source of biographical knowledge and records the extent of his activity throughout his career. Amongst the appendices (volume I, part IV), there is a registered list of 306 paintings executed between 1815 and 1862. Each note reports the subject depicted, the year of sale, and frequently the details of the purchaser and the price paid.
In 1824, after two years spent in Rome, where his views were met with great acclaim amongst the collectors and connoisseurs of European art, Vervloet decided to move to Naples. This move was encouraged by several Neapolitan aristocrats, and he remained there for ten years, encountering a congenial, stimulating environment. He met many Dutch and Belgian colleagues who had arrived there from Rome, including Hendrick Voogd, known as Dutch Claude.
In Naples Vervloet developed a deep, longstanding friendship with Anton Sminck van Pitloo. The two artists improved the standing of the landscape painting genre, preferring to study en plein air whilst looking for unusual views of the countryside. Pitloo not only influenced Vervloet’s style significantly, but also paved the way for his success, introducing him into the city’s best artistic and high society circles.
His contacts with Raffaele Carelli provided him with various thematic inspirations, in particular a variety in figurative depiction, thanks to his “bambocciate” paintings of local lower-class life. Carelli also introduced Vervloet to other artists active in Naples like Théodore Duclère and Sylvester Shchedrin. From 1827, he became a favourite of the Bourbon court, when the King bought his first two paintings from Vervloet. Subsequently, the royal family bought and commissioned more works, up until the late 1840s.
The present view, dated 1830, is a typical example of Vervloet’s style of this period, when the Belgian artist was deeply influenced by Pitloo and when his paintings, like the present one, are characterized by a smooth rendering of light and shadow. The view is taken from the Posillipo shore with part of the façade of Palazzo Donn’Anna partially visible on the right. On the left the view opens up towards the Riviera di Chiaia and the gulf of Naples with the lighthouse that marks the separation between Chiaia and Posillipo - in the XIX century still rural and idyllic boroughs – and the port and the old part of the city, while Vesuvius closes the view on the far right.