King of the Renaissance: Art and Politics at the Neapolitan Court of Ferrante I, 1458-1494
Riesenberger, Nicole Joy
Gill, Meredith J.
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In the second half of the fifteenth century, King Ferrante I of Naples (r. 1458-1494) dominated the political and cultural life of the Mediterranean world. His court was home to artists, writers, musicians, and ambassadors from England to Egypt and everywhere in between. Yet, despite its historical importance, Ferrante’s court has been neglected in the scholarship. This dissertation provides a long-overdue analysis of Ferrante’s artistic patronage and attempts to explicate the king’s specific role in the process of art production at the Neapolitan court, as well as the experiences of artists employed therein. By situating Ferrante and the material culture of his court within the broader discourse of Early Modern art history for the first time, my project broadens our understanding of the function of art in Early Modern Europe. I demonstrate that, contrary to traditional assumptions, King Ferrante was a sophisticated patron of the visual arts whose political circumstances and shifting alliances were the most influential factors contributing to his artistic patronage. Unlike his father, Alfonso the Magnanimous, whose court was dominated by artists and courtiers from Spain, France, and elsewhere, Ferrante differentiated himself as a truly Neapolitan king. Yet Ferrante’s court was by no means provincial. His residence, the Castel Nuovo in Naples, became the physical embodiment of his commercial and political network, revealing the accretion of local and foreign visual vocabularies that characterizes Neapolitan visual culture.