Dunouy’s reputation was burnished in the early years of the Empire by official commissions undertaken for Josephine Bonaparte at Fontainebleau and for Joseph Bonaparte at Mortefontaine. These led to opportunities in Naples, where Caroline Bonaparte set up a flourishing court as the wife of King Joachim Murat (reigned 1808–15). This sketch is a study for a painting that was first owned by the Murats, if not commissioned by them: View of the Palazzo Reale from Santa Lucia, Naples was first recorded as being in the Palazzo Reale, Portici, as early as an inventory of 1817. (The Murat painting, measuring 11 3/4 x 17 1/2 in. [30 x 44.5 cm], is now in the Palazzo Reale, Naples, inv. 328/1874; see Fara Fusco in All’ombra del Vesuvio: Napoli nella veduta europea dal Quattrocento all’Ottocento, Naples, 1990, p. 442; and Annalisa Porzio in Civiltà dell’Ottocento, exh. cat., Naples, 1997, vol. 3, pp. 454–55, no. 17.27, ill.)
Significant additions extend the view in the finished picture now at Naples. A modest building was added at the left edge to provide a stronger sense of scale and positioned in perspective so that the eye is led more gradually from the foreground to the palace. A group of umbrella pines was inserted at right, supplying a note of verticality that complements the animating presence of figures. Most significantly, the artist incorporated the ne plus ultra of Neapolitan views, Vesuvius, which rises (with the Sorrento peninsula beyond) on the far shore of the bay from the castle walls to the right edge of the composition.
[Asher Ethan Miller 2013]
sale, Drouot-Richelieu, Paris, December 3, 1990, no. 95, as "Vue présumée du château de l'Oeuf à Naples"; [Jean-François Heim, Paris; sold to Whitney]; Wheelock Whitney III, New York (from 1990 or 1991)
Washington. National Gallery of Art. "In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-air Painting," May 26–September 2, 1996, no. 3 (as "The Palazzo Reale and the Harbor, Naples" lent from a private collection, New York).
Brooklyn Museum. "In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-air Painting," October 11, 1996–January 12, 1997, no. 3.
Saint Louis Art Museum. "In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-air Painting," February 21–May 18, 1997, no. 3.
Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. "The Romantic Prospect: Plein Air Painters, 1780–1850," June 22–August 15, 2004, no. 12.
Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales. "Plein-air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850," September 4–October 31, 2004, no. 12.
Melbourne. National Gallery of Victoria. "Plein-air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850," November 19, 2004–January 16, 2005, no. 12.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850," January 22–April 21, 2013, unnumbered cat. (fig. 13).
Jeremy Strick in In the Light of Italy: Corot and Early Open-air Painting. Exh. cat., National Gallery of Art. Washington, 1996, p. 115, no. 3, ill. (color), asserts that the inscription is probably not by the artist himself and ascribes it to Dunouy based on comparisons with similar works; mentions that Dunouy was in Italy in the 1780s but is uncertain whether this was painted then or on a later visit to Naples.
Xavier Bray in A Brush with Nature: The Gere Collection of Landscape Oil Sketches. Exh. cat., National Gallery. London, 1999, p. 84, under no. 27 [rev. ed., 2003].
Emilia Calbi in Paysages d'Italie: Les peintres du plein air (1780–1830). Ed. Anna Ottani Cavina. Exh. cat., Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais. Paris, 2001, p. , states that this is a study for a painting in the royal palace of Portici, Naples (now Palazzo Reale, Naples, inv. 328/1874).
Yukitaka Kohari in Plein-Air Painting in Europe, 1780–1850. Exh. cat., Shizuoka Prefectural Museum of Art. Shizuoka, 2004, p. 50, no. 12, ill. (color), observes that the round tower in the center resembles the Castel Nuovo, near the Palazzo Reale; agrees with Strick's [Ref. 1996] suggestion that it was painted during Dunouy's stay in Italy during the 1780s.
Emilie Beck Saiello. Napoli e la Francia: I Pittori di paesaggio da Vernet a Valenciennes. Rome, 2010, pp. 126, 128, fig. 92 (color), calls it "Veduta del Palazzo Reale e del porto di Napoli"; states that it corresponds to the artist's early style, characterized by formal solutions also adopted by Thomas Jones in the 1780s.
Asher Ethan Miller. "The Path of Nature: French Paintings from the Wheelock Whitney Collection, 1785–1850." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 70 (Winter 2013), pp. 15, 45, fig. 13 (color).
Vincent Pomarède in Hubert Robert, 1733–1808: Un peintre visionnaire. Ed. Guillaume Faroult and Catherine Voiriot. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2016, p. 80, fig. 30 (color).