Pietro Fabris painted this canvas for his patron, the British envoy in Naples, Sir William Hamilton, whose portrait can be seen in this collection (number 19). The festival of the Madonna dell’Arco was held on Easter Monday at the sanctuary seen on the right. The sanctuary housed the miraculous image of the Madonna which was believed to have saved it from destruction during the eruption of Vesuvius in 1631. Hamilton and Fabris collaborated on a number of projects, including the production by Fabris of plates for Hamilton’s book on volcanic sites entitled Campi Phlegraei, or ‘flaming fields’. Both men were interested in Neapolitan costumes and customs, which inspired this painting.
Pietro Fabris The Festival of the Madonna dell’Arco 1777 © Compton VerneyOil on canvas