The Eruption of Vesuvius
Oil on wood panel (1825)
This dramatic scene of Mount Vesuvius emphasizes the grandeur and terror of lava against the night sky. Sebastian Pether traveled to Naples, Italy, to paint the volcano, which erupted in the late 1700s and early 1800s. The volcano’s activity allowed artists like Pether to imagine its destruction of the Roman city of Pompeii in 79 c.e. Rather than depicting a contemporary scene, in this painting he represented the only eyewitness account of the historic eruption as described in an ancient letter by Roman author Pliny the Younger.