Palace of Portici  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

The Royal Palace of Portici (Reggia di Portici or Palazzo Reale di Portici) was a royal palace built in the Italian commune of Portici. Today it is the home of the Orto Botanico di Portici. A series of older villas and noble residences were discovered in preparing the foundations of the palace, and excavation of the area revealed numerous works of art, among which was a temple with 24 marble columns. This discovery was put in a museum prepared for the occasion, the Museum of Portici, annexed to the Accademia Ercolanese, which Charles founded in 1755 for the results of the excavations of Herculaneum. The collection of artworks there is now largely at the Naples National Archaeological Museum.

History

Infante Charles of Spain was crowned the King of Naples and Sicily on 3 July 1735 at the age of 18. He had taken control of the two kingdoms by military force opposing the powerful Charles VI, Holy Roman Emperor. While King of Naples and Sicily, he went about improving much in the kingdom.

Charles and his consort Princess Maria Amalia of Saxony were favourably impressed with the area of Portici when they visited the villa of Emmanuel Maurice d'Elbeuf, the Duke of Elbeuf there in 1738. The couple ordered the construction of a palace in Portici that would act, not only as a private residence, but as a place to receive foreign officials travelling to the kingdom.

Work began at the end of 1738 with Antonio Canevari given charge of the project. He worked together with other popular architects of the period. Canevari also helped Charles and Maria Amalia with the construction of another Neapolitan residence, the Palace of Capodimonte.

Charles had the painter Giuseppe Bonito decorate the interior of the palace while the gardens were decorated with marble sculptures by Joseph Canart.

A series of older villas and noble residences were discovered in preparing the foundations of the palace, and excavation of the area revealed numerous works of art, among which was a temple with 24 marble columns. This discovery was put in a museum prepared for the occasion, the Museum of Portici, annexed to the Accademia Ercolanese, which Charles founded in 1755 for the results of the excavations of Herculaneum.

The new royal palace stimulated the construction of numerous other grand residences in the neighborhood, 122 of which are now known as the Vesuvian Villas, as the palace was not large enough to accommodate the entire court. This led to the construction of the larger and far grander Palace of Capodimonte. Charles and his wife kept the Portici Palace as their summer residence and seven of their twelve children were born there.

Upon King Charles' accession to the Spanish throne in 1759, he left his Neapolitan and Sicilian domains to his third son, Prince Ferdiand who would rule Naples and Sicily till his death in 1825.

During the reign of Ferdinand, the Palace was overshadowed by the far grander Caserta Palace which was the official home of the court from 1759. Portici was the private home of Prince Felipe of Naples and Sicily who was the eldest son of Charles III of Spain. Prince Felipe was mentally disabled and lived in the palace till his death there on 19 September 1777.

In the spring of 1769, the palace hosted Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor. In 1770 Mozart stayed there aged 14.

In 1799, King Ferdinand added an opera house to the palace.

In 1804, the Queen consort of the Two Sicilies, Maria Isabella of Spain, gave birth to her first child here; born Princess Luisa Carlotta of Naples and Sicily, she would marry her uncle Infante Francisco de Paula of Spain, Duke of Cadiz. On 13 September, 1848 Queen Maria Isabella died at the palace aged 59.

Joachim Murat refurnished the palace with French furniture during the Napoleonic occupation.

Today the palace accommodates the seat of the Faculty of Agriculture of the University of Naples Federico II.



Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Palace of Portici" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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