Museo di Capodimonte ★★

Room 2 in the museum, Museo Capodimonte, Naples, Italy (Photo courtesy of the museum)
Room 2 in the museum

The most important painting gallery in all of Southern Italy

Set in an 18th-century royal palace in the midst of shady, grassy Capodimonte park high above the city, this is by far the best painting gallery in all of Southern Italy, particularly strong in works from Old Masters representing all phases of the Renaissance and baroque periods.

The layout is often being rearranged as the gallery integrates the original core Farnese collections with various canvases that belong to churches and other collections around town but were sent here for safe keeping.

Among the early Renaissance paintings are fine works by Masolino, Masaccio (his Crucifixion of 1426 is simple yet haunting), a young Botticelli, Filippino Lippi, and Andrea Mantegna.

Giovanni Bellini's Transfiguration (1478–79) is one of his—and the museum's—masterpieces.

From the great Raphael we have Portrait of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (who'll soon become Pope Paul III; 1511), a cartoon of Moses and the Burning Bush (1514), and fragments from an altarpiece featuring the Eternal Father.

Representing the genius of Michelangelo is a cartoon of soldiers that he made as a study for his Crucifixion of St. Peter fresco in the Vatican.

There are High Renaissance pieces from Sebastiano del Piombo and Correggio, whose 1518 Marriage of St. Catherine is a finely studied classical work.

Titian painted a whole gaggle of portraits of various Farnese cardinals in the 1540s, along with a provocative Danäe (1546) painted for Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (and probably using the cardinal's mistress as the goddess model), and the Portrait of a Young Lady (1546), which some scholars believe is actually a portrait of Titian's own daughter.

El Greco contributes a Healing of the Blind, Portrait of Giulio Clovio (1572), and the haunting El Soplón, or Youth Lighting a Candle with a Coal (1575). There are many good Mannerist works from the brushes of Andrea del Sarto, Pontormo, Rosso Fiorentino, and Parmigianino.

After a breather of Flemish paintings—look especially for The Misanthrope and The Blind Leading the Blind, both 1568 works by Peter Bruegel—the baroque proper is rung in with a survey of the Carracci clan, including works by Agostino, Ludovico, and especially Annibale Carracci, who pokes fun at his arch-competitor Caravaggio by painting that artist's leering face on his rendition of a Satyr.

Caravaggio got the last laugh, though, since art history books give but a paragraph to Carracci while filling pages with homage to Caravaggio's genius for composition and dramatic use of chiaroscuro (strongly contrasting light and dark areas), well evident in the excellent Flagellation of Christ (1609) kept here.

Calabrian Mattia Preti painted his 1657 San Sebastiano in a Caravaggesque style, as did Spaniard Giuseppe Ribera in his Drunken Silenus. Another Caravaggesque master—and the early baroque's greatest (and virtually only) female artist—was Artemisia Gentileschi, whose rape as a teenager (and the subsequent highly public and sensational trial) may have later led her to turn her artistic lens often to the many examples throughout history, myth, and the Bible wherein women exact revenge upon men, as in this gallery's gory Judith Beheading Holofernes.

Luca Giordano manages to give good compositional balance and use of light to baroque extravagance in his Madonna del Baldacchino (1686). Giordano's Neapolitan colleagues fill rooms up on the first floor, bringing the museum's survey through the 19th century to a small collection of contemporary art.

Taking a break from painting, pop into the small, excruciatingly elaborate Chinese-style Salottino di Porcellana for an excellent example of Italy's finest 18th-century porcelain, still being produced in a nearby factory (built in 1743) here on Capodimonte. 

 
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Photo gallery
  • Room 2 in the museum, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo courtesy of the museum)
  • Reggia di Capodimonte, home of the museum, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo by IlSistemone)
  • Flagellazione di Cristo , or The Flagellation of Christ (1607) by Caravaggio, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Judith Beheading Holofernes (1611–12) by Artemisia Gentileschi, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • El Soplón, or A Boy Blowing on an Ember to Light a Candle (1570–72) by El Greco, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Pope Paul III (1545–46) by Titian, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • God the Father and the Virgin Mary (1500–01), fragments of the Baronci Altarpiece, by Raphael, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Portrait of a Young Woman, called
  • Leo X with His Two Grandsons
  • Danae (1545–46) by Titian, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • The Blind Leading the Blind (16C) by Pieter Brueghel the Elder, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Portrait of Francesco Gonzaga (1461) by Andrea Mantegna, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Annunciation by Titian, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Madonna col bambino e due angeli, or Madonna with Child and Two Angels (1468-69) by Botticelli, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Sacra Conversazione con Donatori, or Sacred Conversations with Donors, by Jacopo Palma il Vecchio, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Transfiguration of Christ (1487) by Giovanni Bellini, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Le nozze mistiche di Santa Caterina d
  • Crucifix (1426) by Masaccio, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Annunciazione coi SS Giovanni Battista e Andrea, or Annunciation with Sts. John the Baptist and Andrew (1483) by Filippino Lippi, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • 18C wooden disc with the Madonna, Saints, and Prophets from Greece, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • 16C Greek ivory Madonna with Child and Stories of Christ, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Group of Soldiers by Michelangelo, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Saint Euphemia (1454) by Andrea Mantegna, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Hippomenes and Atalanta (1620s) by Guido Reni, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Judith and her Maid Abra with the Head of Holofernes (1645–50) by Artemisia Gentileschi, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Portrait of Giulio Clovio (1571–72) by El Greco, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Apollo e Marsia (1637) by  Giuseppe de Ribera, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Lucrezia e Tarquinio, or the Rape of Lucrezia (1663) by Luca Giordano, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • The Founding of Santa Maria Maggiore (early 15C) by Masolino, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Portrait of Gian Galeazzo Sanvitale (1529) by Parmigianino, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Lucrezia (1540) by Parmigianino, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Madonna col Bambino (1496-98) by Perugino, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Madonna of Divine Love (1516) by Raphael and his assistants, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Allegoria Fluviale, or River Allegory, by Annibale Carracci, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Portrait of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1512) by Raphael, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Rinaldo e Armida by Ludovico Carracci, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Portrait of Charles V by Titian, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Sacra Famiglia e Santi (1629–30) by Giuseppe de Ribera, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • The Holy Family by Raphael, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Samson and Delilah (1630–38) by Artemisia Gentileschi, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Satyr by Annibale Carracci, featuring a portrait of Caravaggio, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Portrait of Clemente VII (1523) by Sebastiano del Piombo, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Drunken Silenus (1626) by Giuseppe de Ribera, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Pope Paul III with his Grandsons Alessandro and Ottavio Farnese (1546) by Titian, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Portrait of a Girl (1545) by Titian, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Venere e Amore, or Venus and Cupid, by Hendrick van den Broeck, Museo Capodimonte, Italy (Photo Public Domain)
  • Filippo Tagliolini -
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Tips

Free or reduced admission with a sightseeing card

Get into Museo Capodimonte for free (and skip the line at the ticket booth) with:

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How long does Museo Capodimonte take?

Expect to spend at least 90 minutes here. Two hours or more is more likely.

(Don't forget to budget at least 10–15 minutes each way just to get out here, as the museum is not really near anything.)

Useful Italian phrases

Useful Italian for sightseeing

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
Where is?... Dov'é doh-VAY
...the museum il museo eel moo-ZAY-yo
...the church la chiesa lah key-YAY-zah
...the cathedral il duomo [or] la cattedrale eel DUO-mo [or] lah cah-the-DRAH-leh
     
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
Closed day giorno di riposo JOR-no dee ree-PO-zo
Weekdays (Mon-Sat) feriali fair-ee-YA-lee
Sunday & holidays festivi fe-STEE-vee
     
ticket biglietto beel-YET-toh
two adults due adulti DOO-way ah-DOOL-tee
one child un bambino oon bahm-BEE-no
one student uno studente OO-noh stu-DENT-ay
one senior un pensionato oon pen-see-yo-NAH-toh

Basic phrases in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) pro-nun-see-YAY-shun
thank you grazie GRAT-tzee-yay
please per favore pair fa-VOHR-ray
yes si see
no no no
Do you speak English? Parla Inglese? PAR-la een-GLAY-zay
I don't understand Non capisco non ka-PEESK-koh
I'm sorry Mi dispiace mee dees-pee-YAT-chay
How much is it? Quanto costa? KWAN-toh COST-ah
That's too much É troppo ay TROH-po
     
Good day Buon giorno bwohn JOUR-noh
Good evening Buona sera BWOH-nah SAIR-rah
Good night Buona notte BWOH-nah NOTE-tay
Goodbye Arrivederci ah-ree-vah-DAIR-chee
Excuse me (to get attention) Scusi SKOO-zee
Excuse me (to get past someone) Permesso pair-MEH-so
     
Where is? Dov'é doh-VAY
...the bathroom il bagno eel BHAN-yoh
...train station la ferroviaria lah fair-o-vee-YAR-ree-yah
to the right à destra ah DEH-strah
to the left à sinistra ah see-NEEST-trah
straight ahead avanti [or] diritto ah-VAHN-tee [or] dee-REE-toh
information informazione in-for-ma-tzee-OH-nay

Days, months, and other calendar items in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
When is it open? Quando é aperto? KWAN-doh ay ah-PAIR-toh
When does it close? Quando si chiude? KWAN-doh see key-YOU-day
At what time... a che ora a kay O-rah
     
Yesterday ieri ee-YAIR-ee
Today oggi OH-jee
Tomorrow domani doh-MAHN-nee
Day after tomorrow dopo domani DOH-poh doh-MAHN-nee
     
a day un giorno oon je-YOR-no
Monday Lunedí loo-nay-DEE
Tuesday Martedí mar-tay-DEE
Wednesday Mercoledí mair-coh-lay-DEE
Thursday Giovedí jo-vay-DEE
Friday Venerdí ven-nair-DEE
Saturday Sabato SAH-baa-toh
Sunday Domenica doh-MEN-nee-ka
     
Mon-Sat Feriali fair-ee-YAHL-ee
Sun & holidays Festivi feh-STEE-vee
Daily Giornaliere joor-nahl-ee-YAIR-eh
     
a month una mese oon-ah MAY-zay
January gennaio jen-NAI-yo
February febbraio feh-BRI-yo
March marzo MAR-tzoh
April aprile ah-PREEL-ay
May maggio MAH-jee-oh
June giugno JEW-nyoh
July luglio LOO-lyoh
August agosto ah-GO-sto
September settembre set-TEM-bray
October ottobre oh-TOE-bray
November novembre no-VEM-bray
December dicembre de-CHEM-bray

Numbers in Italian

English (inglese) Italian (italiano) Pro-nun-cee-YAY-shun
1 uno OO-no
2 due DOO-way
3 tre tray
4 quattro KWAH-troh
5 cinque CHEEN-kway
6 sei say
7 sette SET-tay
8 otto OH-toh
9 nove NO-vay
10 dieci dee-YAY-chee
11 undici OON-dee-chee
12 dodici DOH-dee-chee
13 tredici TRAY-dee-chee
14 quattordici kwa-TOR-dee-chee
15 quindici KWEEN-dee-chee
16 sedici SAY-dee-chee
17 diciasette dee-chee-ya-SET-tay
18 diciotto dee-CHO-toh
19 diciannove dee-chee-ya-NO-vay
20 venti VENT-tee
21* vent'uno* vent-OO-no
22* venti due* VENT-tee DOO-way
23* venti tre* VENT-tee TRAY
30 trenta TRAYN-tah
40 quaranta kwa-RAHN-tah
50 cinquanta cheen-KWAN-tah
60 sessanta say-SAHN-tah
70 settanta seh-TAHN-tah
80 ottanta oh-TAHN-tah
90 novanta no-VAHN-tah
100 cento CHEN-toh
1,000 mille MEEL-lay
5,000 cinque milla CHEEN-kway MEEL-lah
10,000 dieci milla dee-YAY-chee MEEL-lah


* You can use this formula for all Italian ten-place numbers—so 31 is trent'uno, 32 is trenta due, 33 is trenta tre, etc. Note that—like uno (one), otto (eight) also starts with a vowel—all "-8" numbers are also abbreviated (vent'otto, trent'otto, etc.).