1791 — Italian — 1845
Lago Averno, with Lago Lucrino, Castello Aragonese di Baia, and Faro in the Distance
black chalk underdrawing, brush & brown wash & watercolor. 11 x 163/4" (279 x 425 mm). signed l/r F. Fergola
Lago Averno is a small crater lake in the Campi Flegrei about ten miles west of Naples, near the Gulf of Pozzuoli. The Romans believed it was the entrance to Hades. At the left of the water are the ruins of the ancient Temple of Apollo, once part of Cumae which may have been the earliest Greek settlement in Italy or Sicily.
Francesco Fergola, like his father Salvatore, belonged to a group of artists known as the School of Possilipo. These painters and draftsmen were concerned almost exclusively with the landscape of Naples and its surrounding region, including the sea and the nearby islands. Giacinto Gigante was one of their founders; Pitloo was the other important artist of the group. Gigante drew a very similar view of Averno, a drawing long ago acquired by the Uffizi.1 Gigante also employed some watercolor, though his drawing is basically monochromatic. His view differs from Fergola's mainly in that the perspective of the artist is higher, showing more of the hill before the lake and showing a few people there, as well as a few contemporary buildings. In the distance are Baia and Faro, just like in the present drawing which is a bit larger than the Gigante. Fergola's depiction is also invested with more atmosphere, showing a mysterious place steeped in history and remote from 19th c. life. Thomas Jones also depicted Lake Averno in a painting of 1779.2 Therein the Temple of Apollo is behind the lake in which are three or four boats with fisherman, one casting nets. It would be interesting to know if at that time there were actually fish there or if this was only artistic license. Jones also includes grazing cows and a romantic couple to his scene, quite unlike the stark, Romantic vision of Fergola. Lastly Jakob-Philipp Hackaert executed several paintings of Averno, one dated 1794 in Munich; another on the London market in 1988, featured the lake in the middle plane, with the Gulf of Naples and Baia almost disappearing in the distance.3
Four gouaches by Francesco Fergola were presented in an exhibition in Naples in 1985-6 and published by Nicola Spinosa in Gouaches napoletane del Settecento e dell'Ottocento.4
Roberta Olson, Italian Drawings 1780-1890, 1980, NY, cat. # 46, pp. 126-127, & colorpl.p.25.
Mazocca, Morandotti, etc., Il Neoclassicismo in Italia, da Tie[olo a Canova, 2002, Milano, cat. II.5, color plate p. 61
Crawley & Asquith w John Lishawa, The Age of Landscape, London, 1988, pp. 18 -19.
Electa Napoli, 1985, pps. 83 color illus., p. 138, p. 160.