Very little is known about Pietro Fabris’s life but he was supposedly born in England to a Venetian stage set designer called Jacobo Fabris. He is best known for his work with Sir William Hamilton, the diplomat and geologist, with whom he travelled to Italy, capturing images of the volcanoes at Etna and Vesuvius for two publications on observations of volcanic activity. He also painted genre scenes of locals at work and at play against the backdrop of the Neapolitan landscape and the present two gouaches are fine examples of such scenes.
In both views horse carriages can be seen transporting people through the somewhat rugged terrain whilst locals go about their daily activities. In the view looking towards Castel dell’Ovo, we can see the church of Santa Maria della Vittoria on the left and further along the bay to the right is the church of Crocelle al Chiatamone. In the view looking towards Mergellina the Church of Sant’Antonio a Posillipo can be seen across the bay, directly opposite the fountain and further along one can see the dome of the church of Santa Maria in Portico.
Two identical views, by Fabris, executed in gouache, with different staffage, were sold at Christie’s in 1989.1
1. Sale, New York, Christie's, 11 January 1989, lot 107 (View of Naples looking towards Mergellina) and lot 108 (View of Naples looking toward the Castel dell'Ovo)
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