Raped at nineteen by her art tutor in Rome and running up high debts with her husband in Florence, Artemisia Gentileschi moved to Naples as a single middle aged woman in about the year 1630. She hated the city “because of the fighting, and because of the hard life and the high cost of living.” And yet Gentileschi would spend most of the next twenty-six years of her life in Naples.
At that time, Naples was the largest city in southern Europe (three times the size of Rome) and the second largest city in Europe after Paris. Having established an excellent reputation for herself in northern Italy, Gentileschi found more abundant art commissions in the South, at a time when it was unusual and difficult for a female artist to obtain success at all.
Today, Gentileschi’s works can be found at Capodimonte, specifically, on the second floor in room 87. When they are not on tour, you can see Judith Slaying Holofernes, The Annunciation, and Lucretia.
Capodimonte is also worth mentioning because it’s one of the finest museums in Italy. Designed as a royal palace for King Charles of Bourbon in 1738, it sits on a hilltop overlooking the Bay of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius. In 1742, the Baroque Italian architect, Ferdinando Sanfelice designed the forested area to cater to King Charles’ love of hunting. Today, the gardens cover 130 hectares and feature over 400 varieties of trees. Whether you want to stroll along the hilltop, find Gentileschi’s work or that of her contemporary, Caravaggio, or enjoy the modern art section that includes Andy Warhol originals, Capodimonte is a wonderful destination in Naples.
Jane Forutune’s Invisible Women: Forgotten Artists of Florence