Eruption of Mt Vesuvius, Seen from the Ponte della Maddalena in Naples, Francesco Piranesi, after Louis Jean Desprez, c. 1783

Eruption of Mt Vesuvius, Seen from the Ponte della Maddalena in Naples, Francesco Piranesi, after Louis Jean Desprez, c. 1783

etching, l 704mm × w 484mm More details

The eruption of Mt Vesuvius on 8 August 1779 caused great panic with Neapolitans, for it reminded them of the catastrophe that destroyed Pompeii in AD 79. Although it is uncertain whether Desprez actually witnessed this event, he depicted it with the intensity of a personal experience. The outburst lights up the night sky and casts shadows as in daylight, dramatizing the figures’ desperate flight.

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