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The Eruption of Vesuvius, A View of Naples Beyond

Pierre Jacques Volaire French

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 627

Mount Vesuvius’s red hot lava contrasts with the cool blue of the Bay of Naples by moonlight. Volaire learned the technical skills for light effects like these from the era’s preeminent French landscapist, Claude-Joseph Vernet, but he found the subject that would make him famous when he moved to Naples in 1769. His paintings held enormous appeal to Grand Tourists, many of whom visited the area to marvel at the active volcano that had destroyed the ancient city of Pompeii. Tiny human figures overwhelmed by nature’s awe-inspiring power are typical of an aes-thetic known as the Sublime, an important feature of later Romantic landscape painting.

The Eruption of Vesuvius, A View of Naples Beyond, Pierre Jacques Volaire (French, Toulon 1729–1799 Naples), Oil on canvas

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