Expanding Horizons | Giovanni Battista Lusieri and the Panoramic Landscape

  • 30th June − 28th October 2012 | Scottish National Gallery | £7 (£5)

Naples and Around

Lusieri arrived in Naples from Rome at the end of 1781 or early 1782 and took lodgings in the old town below the hill of Capodimonte.  He was shortly joined in the same street by the Welsh painter Thomas Jones (1742–1803), and the two artists became firm friends and sketching companions. Lusieri established himself quickly in Naples, numbering Queen Maria Carolina and the Russian and German ambassadors to the Bourbon court among his clients within a few months of his arrival.

Stimulated, like so many landscape artists, by the sheer beauty of Naples and its spectacular natural setting – with the bay and its islands and the looming presence of Mount Vesuvius – Lusieri set to work producing a series of sweeping panoramic views which document the city from diverse vantage points. Their breadth of vision and ambitious scale is combined with his customary meticulous attention to detail. 

Lusieri found a ready market for his views of the city and its surroundings, especially among the many wealthy British tourists, and for a number of years he became one of the most popular and sought after landscape artists in Italy. But this comfortable situation changed completely with the Napoleon’s invasion of Italy in 1796 and the progressive advance of his troops down the peninsula.  At the end of 1798 the royal family and its entourage – including Sir William Hamilton and possibly Lusieri himself – left Naples for Palermo in Sicily, where a court in exile was established.

Next: Sicily