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December 21, 2009

Il Famoso Ignoto

Went to Naples, Italy to see the 
antique presepi figures in the 
Museo di San Martino. 

Un presepe is a nativity scene. In Naples, the 
presepi take on operatic proportions. 

Not surprising. Naples is home to 
the oldest opera house in Italy, 
il Teatro San Carlo, built in 1737.
Many of these elaborate displays belonged 
to wealthy aristocrats. Some to churches.

In the museum, one glass case after another 
of exquisitely crafted, costumed and detailed 
miniature objects, animals and figures 
depicting all aspects of life in old Italy in 

Clay, wood, silk, wool, silver, copper, brass 
and jewels worked with extraordinary skill, 
keen observation, great wit and humanity. 
My costume, doll, folkart and miniatures 
loving heart nearly leapt from my chest.

Only problem, no photo taking permitted
nor was there a museum shop with postcards 

and books. 

Many quick sketches and much note taking. 
One artist, Ignoto, seemed most prevalent.
Not only did Ignoto seem to have made 

almost everything, I soon realized he was 
active for several centuries....
With only 6 years of Italian language study
behind me, it suddenly dawned....
Ignoto, Italian for Anonymous;-)

(click on images to enlarge)

Without these two beautiful books, there would be no images to show you.

       Il Presepe Napolitano, by Allessandra Griffo, De Agostini 1996
      Il Presepe Napoletano del Settecento, Electa Napoli 1995


  1. Too funny! I had a friend who went with her family to Heidelberg to see crazy Ludwig's castle, Neuschwanstein. Nobody in the car spoke a lick of German but then someone noticed a sign with an arrow so they decided to follow it. After driving around in circles a few times they finally asked someone what "einbahnstrasse" meant. One-way street.

    Never made it to Naples yet. On my bucket list.

  2. Dear DB,
    My Mom was driving with my brother and sister in law along the Autobahn. They kept passing a sign for "Ausfart", and
    dear Mom, with expertise in several Romance languages, but not German, asked if they could visit Ausfart.
    Brother laughed and revealed Ausfart = "Salida" = EXIT!