Our watercolor is part of the interesting artistic production of Victor-Jean Nicolle, an architect who executed watercolors of urban landscapes, enhanced by the presence of human figures.
The piece in question depicts a view of the piazza called Lago di Castello in Naples that constitutes the original nucleus of what is today “Piazza del Municipio”, next to the bastions of “Castel Nuovo”.
The sketch adopts a sui generis point of view, showing a part of the view of the square where the castle is situated, and where the main subject appears to be the city life; Nicolle portrays the daily life in the square, with commercial stands and its inhabitants carrying out their daily routines. This piece has a documentarist value given that it show us what this square looked at the time, with the Vesuvius in the distance, which today cannot be seen from that angle given the structures surrounding the port, and the different shape of the castle.
In Nicolle’s works, it is possible to find representations of Rome and France, with most of the settings based in Paris, while his Neapolitan production is constituted by around one hundred fifty works – most of which have a small format (usually less than 10 cm. in diameter). This makes our watercolor quite precious, given its larger dimensions compared to the other Neapolitan works.
Despite not exposing his works at the official Salons, Nicolle achieved immense success among the amateurs and the French engravings on his works makes us presume that his production was destined mainly to the French market.
His sketches are rarely dated, but from recent critic studies, we learned that the artist lived in Italy for different periods: between 1789 and 1799 and between 1802 and 1811. Our piece thus dates back to this period.
 Ėmilie Beck Saiello, Raffigurare la città tra fine Settecento e inizio Ottocento. Il caso dell’artista e architetto Victor-Jean Nicolle (1754-1826), in Dimore signorili a Napoli: Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano e il mecenatismo aristocratico dal XVI al XX secolo, atti del convegno internazionale di studi (Naples, Palazzo Zevallos Stigliano - Palazzo Reale, October 20-22 2011), ed. by Antonio Ernesto Denunzio, Naples 2013, pp. 78-87.