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The Eruption of Vesuvius

A work made of oil on canvas.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of oil on canvas.

Date:

1771

Artist:

Pierre-Jacques Volaire
French, 1729–after 1799

About this artwork

In this imposing composition, molten lava spews from the mouth of Mount Vesuvius in Italy and winds down the hillside towards the Bay of Naples. Energetic human figures observe the spectacle, their small scale emphasizing the volcano’s enormity.

Vesuvius erupted six times between 1707 and 1794 and thus became a touchstone of popular culture at the time. This same period saw the first systematic excavations of Pompeii, the ancient city that Vesuvius famously destroyed in 79 CE. The romance of Vesuvius simultaneously wondrous and terrifying, ancient and contemporary—made it a frequent subject in 18th-century European art and literature. Paintings like this had enormous appeal in tourist markets.

Status

On View, Gallery 219

Department

Painting and Sculpture of Europe

Artist

Pierre-Jacques Volaire

Title

The Eruption of Vesuvius

Place

France (Artist's nationality)

Date

1771

Medium

Oil on canvas

Inscriptions

Inscribed bottom left: Vue de l'Eruption / du mont Vesuve du 14 / may 1771 peinte Sur le / lieu par le Che Volaire.

Dimensions

116.8 × 242.9 cm (46 × 95 5/8 in.)

Credit Line

Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection

Reference Number

1978.426

IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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https://api.artic.edu/api/v1/artworks/57996/manifest.json

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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