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The Turkish Embassy in Naples
Bonito, Giuseppe
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Bonito, Giuseppe

Castellamare di Stabia, Naples, 1707 - Naples, 1789

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The Turkish Embassy in Naples

1741. Oil on canvas. Not on display

Giuseppe Bonito was a student of Francesco Solimena (1657-1747) and a follower of his artistic idiom. This can be seen in the decidedly Baroque appearance of his early mythological and religious works, which later led to an amiable, colourist Rococo style. Bonito specialised in genre paintings and portraits, and the present canvas is a fine example of his skills. It is especially attractive as a historical document of diplomatic relations between two Mediterranean states, and reflects the sartorial customs of subjects from the Sublime Porte. As such, this work is a polished example of Bonito’s approach to portraiture, halfway between the realism of the seventeenth century and the decorative tastes of the eighteenth century, with its fondness for exoticism from remote countries and idiosyncrasies that contrast with those of western Europe.

Bonito’s acute powers of observation displayed in this work surpass the norm for the sort of solemn and sometimes hieratic renderings of palace images he produced in abundance for Naples’s Bourbon monarchs Charles VII and Ferdinand IV. His close examination of his models brought out their individual personalities, at odds with the refined setting of one of the most brilliant Italian courts from the end of the modern era. Bonito’s solid craft, characterised by a certain monumentality that does not impede his predilection for details, is adequately expressed here, emphasising volumes without losing itself in the execution of excessively detailed motifs. The composition’s expressive strength lies in a precise rendering of each protagonist’s features, resulting in a number of well-differentiated likenesses which emphasise racial differences among the inhabitants of that period’s Turkish Empire. The diverse postures and expressions, the play of glances and unexpected presentation for works of this type bring freshness and immediacy to the scene. Moreover, the fluid touch and elegant palette employed are typical of Bonito’s vast oeuvre -in fact, he received permission to paint at court thanks to this very work, despite the fact that he was not appointed court painter until ten years later.

This painting entered Spain’s Royal Collection via Elizabeth Farnese, King Philip V’s second wife. The inventory that followed the King’s death places it in the Royal Palace at La Granja de San Ildefonso, Segovia, but its origins are Neapolitan. It was painted there in 1741 when commissioned by Charles VII of Bourbon, who was then king of Naples. Later, between 1759 and 1788, Charles VII ruled Spain as Charles III. He must have sent this work to his mother sometime after its completion, probably to inform her of his reception of Hagi Hussein Effendi, the Ottoman Sultan’s ambassador, on 30 August 1741. This political ceremony would have served to emphasise good relations between the two states, and must certainly have had powerful social repercussions.

There are two undated copies of this same canvas, one at the Royal Palace of Ajuda, Lisbon, and the other at the Royal Palace in Naples (Luna, J. J.: Italian Masterpieces. From Spain´s Royal Court, Museo del Prado, 2014, p. 260).

Technical data

Inventory number
Bonito, Giuseppe
The Turkish Embassy in Naples
Height: 207 cm; Width: 170 cm
Royal Collection (Elizabeth of Farnesio Collection, La Granja de San Ildefonso Palace, Segovia, "pieza de cubiertos", 1746, nº 568; La Granja, "pieza sexta", 1766, nº 568; Aranjuez Palace, Madrid, "cuarto del príncipe-pieza de comer", 1794; Aranjuez, "tercera pieza del cuarto del príncipe", 1818, nº 568).

Bibliography +

Palacio del Real Sitio de San Ildefonso. La Granja., Inventario general Pinturas, Muebles y otras alhajas de la Reina Nuestra Señora que tiene en el Palacio del Real Sitio de San Ildefonso, VII, Madrid, 1746, pp. 42.

Allgemeines Künstlerlexikon : die bildenden Künstler aller Z, IV, Saur, 1910, pp. 32.

Salas, Xavier de, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1972, pp. 60.

Urrea Fernández, Jesús, La pintura italiana del siglo XVIII en España, Secretariado de Publicaciones de la Universidad, Valladolid, 1977, pp. 309.

L' art européen á la cour d'Espagne au XVIIIe siecle, Reunion des musees nationaux, Paris, 1979, pp. 175.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado. Catálogo de las pinturas, Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1985, pp. 63.

Iglesias, Maria del Carmen, Carlos III y la ilustración: 1788-1988, Ministerio de Cultura, Madrid, 1988, pp. 119.

Spinosa, Nicola, Pittura napoletana del Settecento, I, Electa,, Nápoles, 1988, pp. 169.

Carlos III en Italia. Itinerario italiano de un monarca español (1731-1759), Madrid, 1989, pp. 124-126.

Portela Sandoval, Francisco Jose, La pintura del siglo XVIII, Vicens-Vives, Barcelona, 1990, pp. 96 / lám. 22.

Museo Nacional del Prado, Museo del Prado: inventario general de pinturas (I) La Colección Real, Museo del Prado, Espasa Calpe, Madrid, 1990.

Bettagno, Alessandro, El Museo del Prado, Fonds MercatorFundación Amigos del Museo del Prado, Madrid, 1996, pp. 299.

Sánchez del Peral y López, J.R, 'Oriente como inspiración de la pintura en las Colecciones Reales españolas' En:, Oriente en Palacio. Tesoros Asiáticos en las Colecciones Reales españolas, Patrimonio Nacional, Madrid, 2003, pp. 348-361 [350 nt.12 nt.13 LXVIII.17].

Aterido Fernández, Ángel; Martínez Cuesta, Juan; Pérez Preciado, José Juan, Colecciones de pinturas de Felipe V e Isabel Farnesio. Inventarios Reales, II, Fundación de Apoyo de la Historia, Madrid, 2004, pp. p.61 n.568, p.361 n.87, p.521, 532..

Luna, J.J, Giusseppe Bonito 'The Turkish Embassy to the Court of Naples en 1741' En:, Italian masterpieces from Spain's royal court, Museo del Prado, National Gallery of Victoria Thames & Hudson, Melbourne, 2014, pp. 260.

Other inventories +

Inv. Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1746. Núm. 568.
Otra Pintura en Lienzo, de maº de Jph. Bonito, que reptª el Embajador del gran Turco, al Rey de Napoles, con su âcompañamiento; sentado sobre una Almoada. tiene dos varas, y media de alto, y dos de ancho. Marco como el antecte [dorado liso]...1

Inv. Testamentaría Isabel Farnesio, La Granja, 1766. Núm. 568.
Ôtro de ocho pies de alto, por siete de ancho, marco dorado liso representa un Embajador y su familia de Constantinopla, que fue â Napoles, vale tres mil rrs

Inv. Testamentaría Carlos III, Aranjuez, 1794. Núm. 568.
Quarto del Principe N.S. [...] Pieza de Comer / {439} 568 / Seis pies y dos dedos de ancho y siete dedos y medio de alto. Retrato de un Embajador turco que pasó a Napoles en tiempo de Carlos 3º. Josef Bonito ... 6000

Inv. Fernando VII, Aranjuez, 1814-1818. Núm. 568.
QUARTO DEL PRINCIPE [...] Tercera pieza [...] {21022} 568 / 2 varas ancho 3 alto Retrato de vn Embajador Turco = Josef Bonito

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1854-1858. Núm. 1147.

Inv. Real Museo, 1857. Núm. 1147.
Bonito (José) / 1147. Retrato de un embajador turco que vino a la corte de España por los años de 1741, en el reinado de Felipe 5º. / Esta sentado en unos almohadones con las piernas cruzadas, a su lado están de pie cuatro turcos de su servidumbre, y el mas joven su pipa en la mano. / Alto 7 pies, 5 pulg; ancho 6 pies, 1 pulg.

Catálogo Museo del Prado, 1872-1907. Núm. 65.

Inscriptions +

Giuseppe Bonito. f. 1741
Signed and dated. Front, lower right corner

Inscribed in white. Front, lower left corner

Inscribed in orange. Front, lower left corner

Fleur-de-lis, used as a collection’s mark belonging to Elisabeth Farnese. Front, lower right corner

Exhibitions +

Carlos III: Proyección exterior y científica de un reinado ilustrado
15.12.2016 - 26.03.2017

Italian Masterpieces from Spain's Royal Court. Museo Nacional del Prado
16.05.2014 - 31.08.2014

Oriente en Palacio. Tesoros asiáticos en las colecciones reales
01.03.2003 - 30.06.2003

Displayed objects +


Update date: 04-11-2021 | Registry created on 02-12-2015

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