The Bay of Naples by moonlight, 1821
Oil on canvas. 49,7 x 68,0 cm
Inventory number: B177
Even though Thorvaldsen was a Neo-Classicist sculptor, he had no problem with appreciating a good Romantic painting – especially when its creator was the young, Norwegian landscape painter J.C. Dahl who came to Italy in 1820 after finishing his education at the art academy in Copenhagen. He especially had a weakness for Dahl’s moonlight pieces from the Bay of Naples. No less than 4 night paintings by Dahl in Thorvaldsen’s collection show the view of the Bay towards Vesuvius. This painting shows the beach at Posillipo. The gloomy building to the left is the so-called Scuola di Virgilio, and to the right a rock makes up a typical Romantic prop that with its odd silhouette manages to capture the sensitive onlooker’s imagination. After his trip to Italy, Dahl settled in Dresden where he became a close friend of the famous German, Romantic landscape painter, Caspar David Friedrich.