If you know any Italian at all, you probably know that mele is the Italian word for apple. But if you get the chance to visit one of Capodimonte’s newest permanent collections, while some of the colour palettes might just conjure up visions of a Granny Smith, don’t expect to see any posters of apples.
The apples in question are brothers Emiddio and Alfonso, whose sir name just happened to be Mele. The posters, part of a series of large scale advertisements the Mele brothers commissioned for their chain of department stores headquartered in Naples.
Taking their inspiration from Paris’ La Fayette and Bon Marché, the Mele brothers brought the concept of Belle Époque department stores to Italy. Operating from 1889 to 1932, E. & A. Mele & Ci, i Grandi Magazzini Italiani, settled into 2000 square meters of space spread across the first and third floors of the elegant and newly constructed Palazzo della Borghesia on Via San Carlo. Across the street in Galleria Umberto I, they opened their own post office to support their quarterly mail order catalogue which featured over 1000 items.
A fashion and luxury goods department store chain, the Mele brothers pricing and marketing strategy was aimed at the growing middle class. Their slogan, Massimo buon mercato, featured prominently in their marketing and advertising campaigns, on which they spared no expense.
Be it print ads for newspapers, magazines and playbils, or large scale posters for billboards, the Mele brothers commissioned the leading artists, designers, painters, and illustrators of the time to create top notch advertisements. Artists, whose individuality shone through while remaining true to the brand messaging.
The legacy of the Mele Brothers and their department stores lives on through the Fondazione Mele, and now at Capodimonte with the foundation’s donation of 32 large scale advertising posters to the museum. Of immense artistic value, they also serve as a pictorial record of the tastes and styles of an era.
Opened to the public 0n November 26th, 2012, access to the collection is by appointment.
Where: Via Miano, 2, Naples
When: Open daily except Wednesday 0830 – 1930, call or email for an appointment to see the Mele exhibit
Tel.: +39 081 7499111
How Much: Adults €7,50, After 1400 €6,50, Reduced €3,75, Audio Guide €5,00
Read more about the Capodimonte Museum and find all the details you need to plan your visit!
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