During the eighteenth century, the imposing, formal character and dramatic decoration of Italian Baroque furniture gave way to lighter, more compact forms, enlivened with undulating shapes of the playful Rococo style sweeping Europe. This gallery shows how this stylistic shift affected the decorative arts of Italy—still a collection of city-states at the time, with each having its own government and artistic traditions. Toward the close of the century, the glory of antiquity was celebrated anew through the Neoclassical style, with clean lines and reinterpretations of ancient Greek and Roman motifs that offered a look back to Italy's exalted past.
The Met's rich holdings of eighteenth-century Italian porcelain are also displayed here. As competition to produce this prestigious and technically challenging material intensified across Europe, new regional manufactories were established throughout Italy. Among them was the Capodimonte Manufactory in Naples (founded 1743), which became especially well known for its expressive figures, sparingly decorated with color and gilding to represent street vendors, theatrical characters, and amorous couples.