A Battle in the Bay of Naples

42.2 x 71.2 cm; oil on wood panel (FC 546)

This is an early example of the genre which became more fully developed in the early eighteenth century. It shows the port of Naples, where a probably imaginary battle is being fought. Bruegel’s travels in Italy started in 1552, when he visited Rome, Naples and Messina. Though this painting was executed in Italy, it is stylistically very much reminiscent of 16th-century Flemish landscapes. The description of even the most minute details, and the bird’s eye view, are typical of that school. There are two mentions of paintings by Pieter in old records that might refer to ours: one in a 1607 inventory of Cardinal Perrenot de Granvelle, Governor of the Netherlands and collector of the artist’s paintings, the other in a list of property left by Rubens in 1640. The panel belonged to Prince Camillo, who had a passion for Flemish paintings.