Introduction: directions to baroque Naples

Helen Hills


How have place in Naples and the place of Naples been imagined, chartered, explored and contested in baroque art, history, and literature? This special issue revisits baroque Naples in light of its growing fashionability. After more or less ignoring Naples for decades, scholars are now turning from the well-trodden fields of northern and central Italy to the south. This is, therefore, an opportune moment to look back as well as forward to reconsider the paradigms according to which scholarship has – often uncritically – unrolled. How has scholarship kept Naples in its place? How might its place be rethought?

Keywords: Naples, baroque, meridionalismo, viceregency, colonialism, Spanish empire, architecture, urbanism, excess, ornament, marble, Vesuvius, Neapolitan baroque art, city and body, Jusepe de Ribera, city views, still-life painting, saints and city, place, displacement

Full text: OAJ Issue 6 Hills Intro  (pdf, 1.31 MB)


Biographical note

Helen Hills is Professor of History of Art at the University of York. She taught at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the University of Manchester before being appointed Anniversary Reader at York. Her research focuses on Italian baroque art and architecture in relation to religion, gender and social class, exploring how architecture and place are productive and discontinuous, even disjunctive. She has published widely on baroque theory, southern Italian baroque art and architecture; religious devotion and social divisions; miracles and materiality; and post-industrial architecture. Major publications include: The Matter of Miracles: Neapolitan Baroque Architecture & Sanctity (Manchester University Press, 2016), which investigates the relationship between matter and miracle in baroque Naples; Rethinking the Baroque (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2011); Invisible City: The Architecture of Devotion in Seventeenth-Century Neapolitan Convents (Oxford University Press, 2004), awarded the Best Book Prize by the Society of Early Modern Women. Recent publications include: ‘Taking place: Architecture and holiness in seventeenth-century Italy’, chapter for Renaissance and Baroque Architecture: The Companion to the History of Architecture, (ed.) A. Payne, vol.1, (Wiley Blackwell, 2017).