Eruption of the Vesuvius

艺术家 达尔 Ruisdael,Jacob van

c. 1823

Oil on canvas, 93 x 138 cm

Nasjonalgalleriet, Oslo

In 1820, Dahl made an Italian journey. Staying only briefly in Rome, where the weight of tradition oppressed him, he concentrated on Naples, where the natural scene revealed itself to him in all its multifarity of form and abundance of light. Dahl became completely engrossed in a study of colour nuances and effects of illumination. He had little contact with the German artists working in Italy, meeting frequently only Franz Catel, who may have introduced him to Turner's watercolour landscapes, which were exhibited in Rome in 1819.

Dahl looked upon the fresh, spontaneous studies he made in the environs of Naples solely as preliminary works for subsequent oils. When Mt. Vesuvius erupted in December 1820, he was among the first to climb the volcano in order to see and depict the phenomenon at first hand. The Oslo painting goes back to this experience. Already in the eighteenth century, depictions of Vesuvius erupting were among the most popular subjects of pictorial reportage, intended not only to satisfy a public thirst for sensations but to embody the aesthetic ideals of the sublime and the picturesque. 

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