Transcultural Negotiations: Aristocratic Tombs in Naples in the Time of the Spanish Viceroys

Dr. Anna Magnago Lampugnani

For about two centuries (1503–1713), the Viceroyalty of Naples was under Spanish rule. Historical research has dealt extensively with this period, and while some authors emphasize the elements of oppression by the hegemonic power, more recent research has also pointed to positive aspects, such as the relative autonomy of the Neapolitans or their cooperation with the Spanish. If a clear distinction between foreign and local power is already difficult on the political level, it becomes even more problematic when applied to the culture and art of the period. The so-called Italia Spagnola had been in constant linguistic and cultural contact with the Iberian Peninsula ever since Alfonso V of Aragon took possession of the city in the mid-15th century. The complex relationship between the Spanish Viceroyalty and Naples (and Southern Italy more broadly) cannot be described as a one-directional process of acculturation, transfer or influence: culture is not a 'commodity' that is transferred from one country or region to the next. For this reason, Neapolitan art of this period must also be considered from a transcultural perspective. This hypothesis is explored in the research project on the basis of aristocratic tombs produced in Naples during the first period of the Spanish Viceroyalty (1503–1550). These monuments are particularly significant as noble families increasingly had to affirm themselves in the new balance of power, but above all they had to construct the memory of their own family. The aim of the project is to investigate the ways in which these monuments contributed to shape the construction of cultural identities and alterities.

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