Francesco Hayez Crucifixion


Museo e Real Bosco di Capodimonte




630 x 830 mm

historical period


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Artwork Details

Crucifixion is a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Masaccio. A chapel in Santa Maria del Carmine in Pisa commissioned an altarpiece from Masaccio on February 19, 1426 for the sum of 80 florins. Payment for the work was recorded on December 26 of that year. The altarpiece was dismantled and dispersed in the 18th century, but an attempted reconstruction was made possible due to a detailed description of the work by Vasari.[1] Eleven pieces have been found as of 2010, and they are insufficient to reliably reconstruct the whole work. The Crucifixion is one of the surviving panels connected with the Pisa Altarpiece. The Crucifixion was placed above the central panel of the altarpiece, which represented the Virgin enthroned with the baby Jesus on her lap, flanked by 2 pairs of angels.[2] Although the panel unnaturalistically represents the narrative against a gold background (a medieval formula for representing sacred scenes), Masaccio creates an effect of reality by depicting the event from below, as the viewer standing before the altar truly saw it. In this way, he attempts to tie the viewer to the scene, to make the sacred accessible to the ordinary Christian. This is not the crucifixion in the mosaic of the dormition

Artist Details

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Francesco Hayez was born in Venice in 1791 in the parish of Santa Maria Mater Domini. His family was very poor, and his fisherman father gave him to his uncle Giovanni Binasco, rich merchant of Genoese art.

This information was mentioned by the artist himself in his autobiography, Memories, written between 1869 and 1875 to his friend Giuseppina Negroni Prati Morosini, a primary source of his life and artistic activity.

He studied in Venice under Maggiotto and Matteini and in 1809 he moved to Rome. There he met Canova who became his protector and he started to attend the classicist circles, as revealed by his first important works (Rinaldo and Armida, 1813, Ulysses at the Court of Alcinous, 1816).

After having worked for a few years in Naples, from 1820 he stayed in Milan where he met Alessandro Manzoni with whom he became good friends.

In 1823 he moved permanently to the Lombard city. He continued the legacy of Andrea Appiani and Giuseppe Bossi and created works with great craftsmanship and pathos, on the trails of late neoclassicism.

In 1822 he obtained a chair of substitution at the Accademia di Brera of Milan, and a professorship in painting in 1850. Artists such as Induno, Mosè Bianchi and Bertini were among his students.

Among his work of that period are Pietro Rossi as a Prisoner of the Scaligers (1820), which immediately became an emblem of historical romanticism, Sicilian Vespers (1821-1822) the Last Kiss of Romeo and Juliet (1823), Penitent Magdalene (1825), Peter the Hermit Preaching the Crusade (1829), the Refugees of Parga (1831).

All these aforementioned paintings are characterized by historical, lyric or religious subjects, marked by strong sentimentality hiding the facts and aspirations of the Italian unification.

By the time he was dominating the Milanese circles of art and culture (as all the portraits of important persons of the time such as Manzoni, Rossini, Rosmini, Verdi and great Lombard families such as Belgiojoso suggest) he also benefitted from a great favor from the Austrian government, for which he decorated the royal palace with a fresco with the Allegory of the Political Order of Ferdinand I in 1837 (destroyed).

In 1860 he became a member of the Accademia di Belle Arti of Bologna and in the same year he was elected president of the Accademia di Brera.

Following a trip to Naples in 1875, after passing via Rome, Pisa and Genoa, he returned to Milan where he died on 21 December 1882.

Location Details

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The collection of Capodimonte has the origins in the refined and elegant collection of the Farnese family. The first assemblage was formed in 1534 thanks to the initiative of Alessandro Farnese (1520-1589) and Pope Paul III, both interested in ancient objects (conserved today in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale of Naples) and the most important artists of the period.

In 1734 Charles III of Spain took the throne and inherited mother Elisabetta Farnese’s collection which was moved from Rome to Parma during the 18th century. In this occasion he felt the need to find a suitable location for the collection.

The construction of the Capodimonte building on the hill started in 1738 and it was used both as a residence and as a gallery. The place was first only visited by famous persons, such as Johann Winckelmann, Antonio Canova and Marquis de Sade.

The museum was inaugurated in 1957, thanks to the insistence of Ferdinando Bologna Raffaello Causa, opening to the public extensive collection of 2900 paintings, 150 sculptures, 17700 objects of decorative art, 26000 drawings, extended over 12000 square meters and divided into 114 rooms.

During the 18th century, the collection was enriched with the works commissioned by the sovereigns of the Bourbon family, but the lootings by French troops in 1799 marked the beginning of decline as its function as a museum.

In the 19th century the building was mostly used as a residence. French general Joachim Murat lived in the building with his wife and they brought new furnishing and interior decorations to Capodimonte.

Only after the arrival of the Savoys and thanks to Annibale Sacco, the new era of the museum started: the art objects which were spread in various residences of the Bourbon family were collected and moved to Capodimonte and there was a new attention to contemporary figurative production of art.

For this reason, there are two main groups in the collection. The Farnese collection includes the portraits of Cardinal Alessandro Farnese, Giorgio Vasari and Andrea del Sarto by Raphael, portrait of Bernardo de’ Rossi by Lorenzo Lotto, portraits of Paul III and Paul III with his Grandsons Alessandro and Ottavio Farnese and Danae by Titian, Portrait of Antea by Parmigianino and the cartoons by Michelangelo and Leonardo Da Vinci and pictorial cycles of Carracci, donated in 1600 by Fulvio Orsini. The second collection includes the historical pieces of Neapolitan art from circa 1200 to 1700. Among them are the works by Simone Martini and Colantonio’s St. Jerome, an example of the lively and rich Aragon period, and the works of foreign influence such as Pinturicchio’s Assumption of the Virgin. The 17th century was considered as the golden era of Neapolitan art, influenced by the works of Caravaggio and his followers. From this era there are Caravaggio’s Flagellation from 1606-1607, Ribera’s Drunken Silenus, Artemisia Gentileschi’s Judith and Holofernes, Guido Reni’s Atalanta and Hippomenes and Mattia Preti’s St. Sebastian.

The current layout of the museum is a result of the series of restorations in the 1980s’ and 1990s’ which determined the division of the collection onto three floors. The ground floor includes the educational rooms, the mezzanine floor holds the department of drawings and prints, the Farnese collection, the Borgia collection and the royal apartment are in the first floor and finally on the second floor the Neapolitan gallery, the D’Avalos collection, the 19th century gallery and the photographic gallery.