We have one of the richest collections of Neapolitan art in the world outside Naples, representing a cross-section of works from the ‘Golden Age’ of Neapolitan art. By 1600 Naples was one of the largest cities in Europe, second only to Paris and with a population three times as large as Rome. It was a city of extremes, combining natural wonders and Catholic devotion with crime and poverty. These contrasts are suggested in the vivid religious, mythological and still life scenes of Luca Giordano (1634-1705), Francesco Solimena (1657-1747) and Giovan Battista Ruoppolo (1629-93). After 1700, the city became an established destination on the Grand Tour itinerary, with foreign visitors and artists alike drawn by the opportunity to witness a dramatic eruption from Mount Vesuvius.

We have a rich collection of historic paintings and objects, paintings by Gaspare Vanvitelli (1652/3-1736), Pietro Fabris (active 1754-1804) and Pierre-Jacques Volaire (1729-c.1792), and elaborate carved wooden and coral pieces capture the romantic appeal that Naples held for visitors. As well as examples of souvenirs made from the lava of Vesuvius and brought back to Britain in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and two commissions produced by living artists in response to works in the historic collection. Responding specifically on the theme of the senses the works were commissioned in partnership with disability arts platform Unlimited.

DYSPLA, a neuro-divergent led award-winning arts studio, created a work that speaks to Lorenzo Vaccaro’s marble busts of The Four Continents, through four new performative digital sculptures. Accessed via a QR code, these holographic sculptures invite you to engage with your own physicality through touch. The senses of sight and sound are addressed in the second new artwork, which takes the form of three bronze bells and a piece of Vesuvius lava rock. The bells can be gently rung, and were created for Compton Verney by Aaron McPeake, an artist whose practice explores his own experience of sight loss later in life and the sound of church bells echoing across Naples.

With thanks to International Flavors and Fragrances and the Wolfson Foundation.