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Mount Vesuvius erupting at night, billowing clouds and flashes of lightning, and with many spectators viewing the event across the bay of Naples.
A stamped and numbered archival pigment print on Somerset Satin 330gsm paper printed in a limited edition of 250 copies, based on a coloured mezzotint with etching & gouache by J.M. Mixelle (French 1758 - 1839) after Alessandro d'Anna (Italian, 1746 - 1810), circa 1787.
Wellcome Collection, London
Following the chance rediscovery of Herculaneum in 1738 by workmen digging for the foundations of a summer palace for the King of Naples, and the subsequent excavations at Pompeii during the latter half of the 18th century, attracted a constant stream of visitors Southern Italy to view the excavations in progress and to purchase antiquities and souvenirs.
Johann Wolfgang Goethe, who visited the sites in 1787, recognised the huge importance of these discoveries, writing in his journal: “Of all the catastrophes which have been visited upon the world, few have bequeathed such enormous benefit to future generations”
Artists, scholars, writers and wealthy tourists participating in 'The Grand Tour' flocked to Campania from all over Europe and were greatly inspired by the objects and ruins of two archaeological sites. This fascination was stimulated even further by the fact that Mount Vesuvius was particularly active during the 18th century, with eruptions occurring during almost every decade.
The eruption of Vesuvius became a recurring theme in European painting throughout the late 18th and early 19th century and works by such renowned artists as Joseph Wright of Derby, J.M.W. Turner, Johann Christian Dahl and Pierre-Jacques Volaire proved to be extraordinarily popular. At the same time there developed a huge public demand for mass - produced prints and albums depicting the volcano in all its monstrous, sublime and terrifying glory, of which this mezzotint by J.M. Mixelle, after a painting by Alessandro d'Anna is a particularly fine example.
This image features in Stephen Ellcock's latest book, The Book Of Change, published in the UK by September Publishing, and by Princeton Architectural Press in the U.S.