Gallerie d’Italia – Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano

The Zevallos palace (or also Colonna di Stigliano palace or Zevallos Stigliano palace) is a monumental palace in Naples located along via Toledo. The building houses the museum gallery of the same name, which is part of the Italian galleries owned by the Intesa Sanpaolo group. The palace was erected between 1637 and 1639 by Cosimo Fanzago at the behest of the Spanish family of the Zevallos, dukes of Ostuni, who wanted for them a noble palace on via Toledo, unable to build one on the nearby and crowded Spanish Quarters. The first owner of the building was Giovanni Zevallos (Juan de Zevallos Nicastro, Duke of Ostuni) who acquired the property in 1639 once completed the works. On his death the palace passed first to his son Francesco and then later, in 1653, it was definitively ceded to the Flemish art collector and merchant Giovanni Vandeneynden, as well as Ferdinando’s father, who took a Piccolomini as his wife after he acquired the title of Marquis of Castelnuovo by the king of Spain. From this latter union two daughters were born: Giovanna, who married the prince of Sonnino, Don Giuliano Colonna, and Elisabetta, who married Don Carlo Carafa di Stigliano, Marquis of Anzi. It was with this wedding, interested by the link with two important noble families of Naples, that it changed the ownership of the building, thus attributing it in 1688 to the Colonna Stigliano family. Throughout the 17th century, the palace saw important restorations and modifications of both the interior and the main facade. The sumptuous entrance gate with the noble coats of arms executed by the Fanzago stands out from the first palace of the Zevallos. Another important commission in this period was the one entrusted to Luca Giordano, directly contacted by Giuliano Colonna, who executed a cycle of frescoes in the building to embellish the interiors. During the first half of the 19th century, due to some internal disagreements within the Colonna di Stigliano family, the building was dismembered, divided into several parts and rented to different tenants who had no connection with the noble family. Giordano’s decorations were lost in this context and with them also all the prestige of the building on the whole Via Toledo which, in the meantime, saw a considerable increase in the number of noble buildings that embellished what had become the most important street in town. There were several buyers who took possession of a portion of the building: the first noble floor went to the banker Carlo Forquet; two rooms on the mezzanine floor went to Cavaliere Ottavio Piccolellis; the remaining parts, on the other hand, were put on sale only after a few years. The palace in this period saw once again its architecture change strongly, thanks to the neoclassical interventions of Guglielmo Turi. The most important part of the building, now open to the public, was acquired by the Forquets, who wanted an important cycle of decorations and stuccoes for their new apartment to embellish the main staircase and the rooms on the first floor. On this occasion, Gennaro Maldarelli and Giuseppe Cammarano were called to work, both very active in those years in the decorations of the noble palaces of the city, including at Villa Pignatelli and the Royal Palace. At the end of the 19th century, the Forquets’ share was purchased by the Banca Commerciale Italiana and the remaining parts were taken no earlier than 1920. On this date, the building returned to being, after almost a century, a single palace. On this occasion the architect Luigi Platania was commissioned to adapt the bulding to the new intended use; in fact, the closing of the internal courtyard dates back to these works with the creation of the large hall on the ground floor. On the main floor of the building, one of the three art galleries belonging to the banking group has been set up since 2007, called galleries of Italy, which has about 120 pieces including paintings and sculptures. The gate of Cosimo Fanzago is majestic, typical of Neapolitan architecture, as soon as you pass it, is visible on the right another large noble coat of arms of the Colonna family with a short marble engraving dedicated to them: the shield is the same as that placed above the main gate, therefore suggesting that these two parts were only added at a later time. Immediately after the entrance is the large central hall by Luigi Platania, in eclectic style, obtained from a previous courtyard in piperno deriving from the original Fanzaghian project. On its walls there are some mural paintings by Ezechiele Guardascione; the roof is through a decorated glazed skylight, while the monumental grand staircase, located on the right, leads to the upper floor and is decorated with 19th-century large lamps and golden stuccoes. On the vault is an Apotheosis of Sappho by Giuseppe Cammarano signed and dated 1832. The walls, colored with a moss green background, are instead decorated in a neoclassical style by Gennaro Maldarelli. After the monumental grand staircase, the halls that make up the main floor open in suquence. Among these is that of the Amorini, decorated in the vault with decorations from the late 19th-century; the Stucchi hall, decorated with neoclassical elements on the walls; the Uccelli hall, also decorated in the vault with 19th-century animal and floral motifs from which it takes its name; the Pompeiana hall follows, which takes its name from the classical motifs of the tempera decorations that characterize the vault; and finally the Fedeltà hall, so called because of the pictorial representation of virtue on the vault, which features works by Cammarano and Maldarelli in the decorative elements. Inside these halls the museum galleries of the same name are housed, which include 120 works including paintings, drawings and sculptures belonging to the collections of the Italian galleries owned by the Intesa Sanpaolo group. The pieces making up the Galleries of Palazzo Zevallos are exhibited in the halls of the main floor with chronological criteria. These consist of paintings ranging from the Neapolitan 17th-century to those of the 19th-century belonging to the school of Posillipo and Resina, up to the sculptures and drawings in pencil and charcoal by Vincenzo Gemito executed at the turn of the 19th and 20th centuries, to which an entire hall was dedicated. Among the most important pieces in the collection is Caravaggio’s last work, the “Martirio di sant’Orsola”, from 1610.

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