"Antike Wunder und eine moderne Königin" – The Art Patronage of Maria Carolina (1752–1814), Queen of Naples-Sicily, in the Context of Artistic and Cultural Exchange between Naples and Vienna

Cigdem Özel, M.A.

The reign of Maria Carolina (1752–1814) was characterized by a period of cultural prosperity in the King-dom of Naples-Sicily, which thanks to the excavations in Herculaneum and Pompei was attracting an increasing number of Grand Tourists. Although eighteenth-century female patronage has been quite widely studied, a deeper inquiry about Maria Carolina’s artistic patronage does not hitherto exist. The project investigates the Queen’s artistic patronage through the study of three object groups having a close connection to Vienna, which is not only Maria Carolina’s birthplace, but an important reference throughout her entire life: First, the stone centrepiece figuring the temples of Paestum in the Kunsthistorisches Mu-seum of Vienna, second, the family portraits in different techniques and materials; and third the frescoes by Heinrich Friedrich Füger in the Queen’s library in the Reggia di Caserta. Besides reflecting upon the genesis and reception of the works, the PhD project will reconstruct the network involved in their preparation and execution of the artworks. The main aims of the project are to shed light on the meaning of the chosen works and on Maria Carolina as an art patron in the family and political context. The project will also examine to what extent the fact of being Queen in the Kingdom of Naples-Sicily and the exchanges with Vienna played a role in her commissions. Finally, the PhD research will study how Maria Carolina’s artistic patronage shaped her own image as a Queen and that of her kingdom.

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