Antonio SENAPE 1788 -1850

Little is known about this calligraphic "draughtsman of landscapes with a pen", as Antonio Senape often used to call himself in the frontispieces of the albums containing his views.

A document recently rediscovered by the scholar Pier Andrea De Rosa testifies to the fact that Senape stated in a parish poll at the age of 27 in 1815 that he lived 50, Via Gregoriana in Rome (archive of the Vicariato di Roma, parish of Sant'Andrea delle Fratte, Stati d'Anime 1815 f.n.n.), thus we may assume that he was born in Rome in c. 1788, and indeed he describes himself as Roman in the margin of many of his drawings.

Senape is likely to have left his native city in order to settle in southern Italy after 1815, because while his views of Rome are fairly rare, the bulk of his output comprises views of the south, the earliest of them being of Sicily (P. E. Trastulli 1998).

Later on he moved to Naples, where he devoted his energy to producing views "from life" consisting of loose sheets in pen and ink, thus not watercoloured.

These images of more or less well-known sites were then collected together in souvernir albums for (especially English) travellers, there being a flourishing market for such albums in the years following the Bourbon Restoration.

The city, which offered itself to him in a myriad different poses according to the different viewpoints from which he portrayed it, became his second home.

While the School of Posillipo, with Pitloo and Gigante, had already inaugurated a new approach to the view, Senape continued to produce images of the city from life, without using the "camera lucida" so much in vogue with the Posillipo artists but still composing his views in a style redolent of the 18th century, and succeeding in capturing even the most minute details.

 

Literature:

Antonio Senape e i luoghi della Sirena; brochure of an exhibition curated by P.A.De Rosa and P.E. Trastulli, Roma 1998;

Vedute Napoletane della Fondazione Maurizio e Isabella Alisio, ed. Giancarlo Alisio and Nicola Spinosa, Naples 2001 cat. n.81.