English School, 1906
The Eruption of Mount Vesuvius
inscribed on verso: A souvenir of the Vesuvian Eruption / April 1906
gouache over pastel
450 x 300 mm
Private Collection, UK
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius is perhaps one of the most storied events of antiquity and one that has remained perennially alluring to artists of the early modern period due to the frequency of eruptions and the popularity of Pliny the Younger’s legendary account.
As with the monuments of ancient Rome many artists have journeyed to Naples to capture the savage beauty of the volcano. Joseph Wright of Derby, Johan Christian Dahl, JMW Turner and Andy Warhol, to name but a few, are amongst the countless Western artists who have been drawn to the site and produced their own idiosyncratic renditions of the phenomenon.
The eruption of April 1906 was the first that Naples had seen for 30 years and remains one of the most severe eruptions of the last millennium, killing over 100 people. This raw force is reflected in the present work’s vibrancy of colour and the texture of the paper’s surface, which contrasts the abrasive nature of the lava’s flow with the smooth slopes of the volcano, clouds of billowing smoke and blue-grey sky.