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New Research on Art in Fifteenth-Century Naples / Nuove ricerche sull’arte del Quattrocento a Napoli

 

 

Emanuele ZAPPASODI

Per la giovinezza di Giovanni da Gaeta

 

A decisive role in the formation of the prolific artist Giovanni da Gaeta, active in Lazio and Campania as well as in Sardinia and Majorca, has long been recognized in the work of Perinetto da Benevento and Leonardo da Besozzo in the Caracciolo chapel in the church of San Giovanni a Carbonara in Naples, where Giovanni carried out an Annunciation whose relationship to the Caracciolo chapel’s frescoes was persuasively argued by Federico Zeri. The recovery of a figure of such importance for the late gothic period in Campania as the Master of Nola (responsible for three shaped crosses conserved in Nola, Sessa Aurunca, and in a collection in London, as well as for a Madonna del Latte in a private collection) allows us to assess Giovanni da Gaeta’s debt to the unnamed master, from whom he seems to have derived types and ornamental motifs that he reused repeatedly – even to the point of banality -- over the course of his long career. The model of the anonymous Maestro da Nola therefore must be considered among the most important elements in Giovanni da Gaeta’s training, which took place around 1440 in Naples in a context that, as scholars have often noted, fostered an affinity with Marchigian painters like Pietro di Domenico from Montepulciano and the Master of the Oratory of Santa Monica (a very alter-ego of Giacomo di Nicola da Recanati), active in Alife and Naples between the third and fourth quarters of the Quattrocento. The oeuvre of Giovanni da Gaeta is also explored by attributing to his hand several works, including a damaged fresco in the cathedral of Carinola that has until now escaped the notice of scholars.