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PAINTINGS

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Tornabuoni Arte

D192
RAFFAELE MATTIOLI
The people swears to the king and to the law
Naples 1775- after 1822
oil on paper transferred to canvas
cm. 46x63,5


Inscriptions on the clypeated portrait: VES[] R.P.PP. COS. VIII. IMP. T. CA[]S.; on the table: QUAM. IOACHINO. NAP. REG. FORTISS. AEDEM. MORTALIT. PARTENOPE. ADDIXIT. CAROLINA. UXOR. SAPIENTI[]. AR. SUFF[]. on the busts: CICERO NUMA CATO CORN. TAC. This small model, preparatory to the large canvas ordered by the king of Naples, Gioacchino Murat, is a kind of political and ideal manifesto serving a declaredly celebratory and ideological purpose. As stated by the contemporary description of the president of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Naples, the work illustrates the action of a People which swears allegiance to its King and to the Laws. With respect to the monumental final painting, exhibited by the King in the Royal Palace, in the first antechamber to the Throne Hall, the preparatory work features some substantial differences, and is therefore of great interest for purposes of reconstructing its genesis. For instance, the face of Emperor Vespasian Augustus, which appears on the shield supported by the winged figure of Fame in our sketch, has for political reasons by replaced by the face of Francis I of Bourbon. The scene takes place within a hemicycle with columns, decorated with herms featuring portraits of great personalities of ancient Rome, united by a passion for politics: Cicero, Numa Pompilius, Cato, Cornelius Tacitus. The centre of the scene, surrounded by the subjects in virile and firm poses, is occupied by the burning brazier and the aforementioned shield, supported by Fame. A very prominent role is also played by the crowned allegorical figure, representing the Law, who holds a table with the names of Murat and his wife Carolina above her head. All details concerning the commission for the painting, entrusted to Mattioli who was appointed honorary professor of the Academy in 1822, which is now found in the deposits of the Capodimonte Museum awaiting restoration, have recently been reconstructed (see S. Grandesso in Quadreria 2009. Dalla bizzarria al canone: dipinti tra Seicento e Ottocento, edited by G. Capitelli, no. 17, pages 48-49).



Tornabuoni Arte