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Causa, Raffaello

    Full Name: Causa, Raffaello

    Gender: male

    Date Born: 1923

    Date Died: 1984

    Place Born: Pozzuoli, Naples, Campania, Italy

    Place Died: Naples, Campania, Italy

    Home Country/ies: Italy

    Subject Area(s): eighteenth century (dates CE), Italian (culture or style), and seventeenth century (dates CE)


    Historian of 17th- and 18th-century Italian art; Soprintendente ai Beni Artistici of Campania, 1965-1984. Causa attended the University of Naples completing his studies with a thesis on the 17th-century Neapolitan painter Micco Spadaro (1609-1675). In 1946 Causa was appointed Ispettore of the Soprintendenza (Naples), where he remained until 1965. During his tenure, he supervised restorations, organized exhibitions and produced art-historical studies of considerable interest. He organized the important exhibition “Bozzetti napoletani del Sei e del Settecento” in 1947 where he described and analyzed the figure of the painter Luca Giordano (1634-1705). Causa became a member of the editorial staff of Paragone Arte, the art review founded by Roberto Longhi. In 1954 he organized, in collaboration with his friend, the specialist in 15th-century art and professor Ferdinando Bologna, the original exposition “Scultura lignea” and the important catalog, Sculture lignee nella Campania. In 1956 he was one of the member of the staff for the reorganization of Pinacoteca Nazionale of Naples in its new seat at Capodimonte, under Bruno Molajoli (1905-1985). In 1962 he focused his research on Certosa di San Martino and he wrote Tarsie cinquecentesche nella certosa di S. Martino a Napoli, 1962. He wrote important studies about Anton Sminck Pitloo (1790-1837), a Dutch painter who was invited to Naples by the Russian diplomat and art connoisseur Count Grigory Vladimirovich Orloff and became one of the founding members of School of Posillipo, a group of landscape painters that worked en plein air. He wrote numerous articles and books in which discussed themes ranging from Caravaggio (e.g. I seguaci del Caravaggio a Napoli, 1966.) to various Neapolitan painters (e.g. Pittura napoletana dal XV al XIX secolo, 1957), especially those of still life. He wrote reviews in Italian art journals including Napoli nobilissima, Paragone Arte, Emporium, Bollettino d’arte, Arte veneta and international journals e.g. The Art Quarterly. After his appointment as Soprintendente in 1965, he organized important international exhibitions such as the “Civiltà del Settecento a Napoli” (1979) and “La pittura napoletana da Caravaggio a Luca Giordano” (1984), which traveled internationally. He contributed two volumes to the 10-volume survey Storia di Napoli, beginning 1972 Neapolitan 18th-century painters, La pittura del Seicento a Napoli: dal naturalismo al barocco. He was also a member of the Scientific Committee of the project with the historians Franco Venturi (1914-1994) and Giuseppe Galasso (b. 1929), the archaeologist Domenico Mustilli (1899-1966), etc. Causa oversaw two exhibitions in his final years which traveled to American museums “The Age of Caravaggio” at the Metropolitan Museum, 1985, and “Bernardo Cavallino of Naples, 1616-1656” at Cleveland and Fort Worth, TX. He died unexpectedly at the age of 61 while working on the exhibition, “La pittura napoletana da Caravaggio a Luca Giordano.” The show was exhibited in a revised version, dedicated to its creator, at Capodimonte in Naples the same year as his death, 1984. Specialist in XVII and XVIII centuries Italian art especially Caravaggio, and the Neapolitan painters (School of Posillipo). Causa’s scholarship influenced the art historians Ferdinando Bologna, Luigi Salerno who dedicated to him Scritti di storia dell’arte in onore di Raffaello Causa, 1988. A volatile personality (“aloof and self assured”) he was adept at negotiating the myriad red-tape and corruption of the Neapolitan cultural-property world in order to create important exhibitions (González-Palacios). An historian whose judgments could be uneven, his Certosa di San Martino was considered a high-watermark in his scholarship (González-Palacios).

    Selected Bibliography

    La Madonna nella pittura del ‘600 a Napoli. Naples: Azienda Autonoma di Soggiorno, Cura e Turismo, Napoli, 1954; Vedute napoletane dell’Ottocento: disegni di Giacinto Gigante.Napoles: L’Arte Tipografia, 1955; Pitloo. Naples: Mele, 1956; Pittura napoletana dal XV al XIX secolo.Bergamo: Istituto Italiano d’Arti Grafiche, 1957; Tarsie cinquecentesche nella certosa di S. Martino a Napoli. Milan: Ricordi, 1962; Sant’Angelo in Formis. Milan: Ricordi, 1963; Andrea Belvedere, pittore di fiori. Milan: Ricordi, 1964; Antonello da Messina. Milan: Fabbri, 1964; Gli affreschi di Sant’Angelo in Formis.Milan: Fabbri, 1965; Napoletani dell’800. Naples: Montanino, 1966; Caravaggio: prima parte.Milan: Fabbri, 1966; Vincenzo Gemito.Milan: Fabbri, 1966; La Scuola di Posillipo. Milan: Fabbri, 1967; Opere d’arte nel Pio Monte della Misericordia a Napoli. Cava dei Tirreni: Di Mauro, 1970; La pittura del Seicento a Napoli: dal naturalismo al barocco. Storia di Napoli [series]. Naples: Soc. Ed. Storia di Napoli, 1972; L’arte nella Certosa di San Martino a Napoli.Cava Dei Tirreni: Di Mauro, 1973; Giuseppe De Nittis. Bari: Dedalo, 1975; Gioacchino Toma. Bari: Edizioni Dedalo, 1975; La Campania nelle immagini del Settecento nel “Voyage pittoresque” del Saint-Non.Naples: Edizioni scientifiche italiane, 1980; Le collezioni del Museo di Capodimonte: Napoli. Touring Club Italiano.Milan: Rizzoli, 1982.


    Scritti di storia dell’arte in onore di Raffaello Causa. Naples: Electa Napoli, 1988; Savio, Giulia. Roberto Longhi e gli altri, le prime annate di Paragone Arte. Master’s thesis, University of Genoa, 2006. [obituaries:] Torricelli, Raffaello. “Raffaello Causa: da non dimenticare” Amici dei musei 30 (1984): 8; González-Palacios, Alvar. “Raffaello Causa (1923 – 1984)” Burlington Magazine,128 (1986): 677-678; Salerno, Luigi. “Raffaello Causa.” Apollo 120 (August 1984): 152.

    Contributors: Giulia Savio


    Giulia Savio. "Causa, Raffaello." Dictionary of Art Historians (website).

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