Showpiece and utility: eighteenth-century neapolitan staircases

This page is part of our exhibition archive. The exhibition took place from 29-06-2018 to 19-09-2018

Pronkstuk en gebruiksvoorwerp: achttiende-eeuwse napolitaanse trappenhuizenAmong the many fascinating aspects of Neapolitan architecture, the open staircase occupies a special place. The exhibition shows the development of the open staircase typology at the moment that it shifted from the traditional, monumental Baroque palace staircase — usually only ascending up to the first floor — towards the later palazzo or condominium staircase that was serving four, five or more levels of apartments, of different social standing. These wondrous constructions, which witness of the audacity of Neapolitan architects, solve issues of aristocratic etiquette as well as practical plan arrangements. While prefiguring the stairs of modern apartment buildings, they could hardly have been farther removed from the often merely utilitarian structures that stairs were to become later.

At times grand and imposing, at times cramped in tapered courtyards, these staircases, considered "the star(s) of the palace composition in Naples", are numerous and disparate in form. The exhibition documents 14 of them, by architects ranging from the illustrious Ferdinando Sanfelice (1675-1748) to his lesser known followers. The plaster models, drawings and photographs, and the two accompanying book volumes, are the outcome of two master seminars in Architectural History at the Department of Architecture and Urban Planning of Ghent University, held in 2017 and 2018.

Dirk De Meyer, Showpiece and Utility. More eighteenth-century Neapolitan Staircases. With a preface by Marius Grootveld
A&S/books UGent, 2018
240 x 170 mm, 130 blz., throughout illustrations
ISBN: 9789076714523

Dirk De Meyer, Showpiece and Utility. Eighteenth-century Neapolitan staircases. With a preface by Kersten Geers
A&S/books UGent, Books, 2017²
240 x 170 mm, 128 p, throughout illustrations
ISBN: 9789076714493

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