- Museum number
Family portrait of Ferdinand IV, King of the Two Sicilies; Ferdinand IV on the left, leaning on a plinth with a large vase, beside him on the right, Maria Carolina, with a small girl by her side; three more children on the right, one playing with a bird, and two on the left, the boy with a dog, and the girl playing the harp, trees and mountainous landscape in the background. 1790
Etching and stipple
- Production date
Height: 471 millimetres
Width: 578 millimetres
- Curator's comments
- Text from Ian Jenkins and Kim Sloan, "Vases & Volcanoes", BM 1996, cat.12:
After Angelica Kauffman married the Italian decorative painter Antonio Zucchi (1726-95) the couple decided to live in Naples, arriving there in 1782. She painted a large oval composition representing Penelope working with two maidens, which she gave to Sir William Hamilton, presumably by way of thanking him for the assistance he had lent her in Naples, either by obtaining for her permission to copy in the Royal Collection (a service he was often called upon to perform for British artists) or for helping her to find Italian patronage in that city. Her list of works executed in Naples during the summer and autumn of 1782 indicates that her new patrons were all members of the court circle.
Kauffman's most important commission of the five months spent in Naples in 1782 was from the queen for a large portrait of the entire royal family. She began by painting each individually and, when she decided to set up house in Rome rather than Naples, she took these studies with her in December 1782. Two years later, having completed the large work in her studio in Rome, Kauffman delivered it herself as requested to the queen in Naples. This enormous (310 x 426 cm), extremely flattering painting, which could not fail to please, still hangs in Capodimonte. It brought her a further royal commission, from Joseph II, Emperor of Austria and brother of Queen Maria Carolina.
The Bourbon features of King Ferdinand IV are almost unrecognisable and Queen Maria Carolina's face is much more flattering than most portraits of her (1843,0513.612). In her 'Memorandum of Paintings' Kauffman described the figures as life-size:
"... in one big picture, representing a pedestal with antique vase in a garden with boscage. The King is standing and is supposed to have just returned from the hunt, the Queen is sitting encircled by her children. Beside her is a sort of cradle or a children's small cart. Princess Maria Teresa is playing the harp, Princess Donna [Maria] Luisa is sitting on the said cradle and is holding in her arms the infant child Princess Maria Amelia. The Prince Royal, Don Francesco, is standing beside his father and playing with a grey hound; Princess Donna [Maria] Christina is leaning on the Queen and Prince Don Gennaro, is sitting on a cushion playing with a canary which he has tied by a ribbon so as to let it fly. There are also two hunting hounds. All the Royal Family are dressed simply and the whole picture portrays a rural scene". [Manners and Williamson, p. 145].
Mariano Bovi's stipple engraving of Kauffman's painting was published on 18 December 1790. It may be significant that Hamilton's list of correspondents for that year (Bodleian Library, Eng MS g.16, f.26) indicates that on 4 May he wrote to Kauffman and on 3 August to Mariano Bovi. In 1802, Bovi issued a 'Catalogue of Prints' which included paintings and drawings as well as prints, which were all on display for sale in his Exhibition Room in Piccadilly (British Library, Add. MS 33,397, ff. 183-90). No. 118 in the catalogue was a drawing by Bartolozzi 'after Kauffman's Royal Family of Naples', probably for the present print, and no. 159 was a "painting of the Royal Family of Naples by Kauffman", an indication that she herself had made a copy of this important work and may have had publication as a print in mind from the beginning. The print of this painting by Bovi was listed among those for sale, as no. 8, and the price, in colours, was £2.12.6, the fourth most expensive print in the stock-list of 151 items.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
1996, London BM, 'Vases and Volcanoes: Sir William Hamilton and his collection', cat.12
- Acquisition date
- Prints and Drawings
- Registration number