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Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A. (1734-1797)
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Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A. (1734-1797)

An Italianate moonlit coastal scene, with Mount Vesuvius erupting in the distance

Details
Joseph Wright of Derby, A.R.A. (1734-1797)
An Italianate moonlit coastal scene, with Mount Vesuvius erupting in the distance
oil on canvas
13½ x 19¾ in. (34.3 x 50.2 cm.)
Special notice

No VAT will be charged on the hammer price, but VAT at 17.5% will be added to the buyer's premium, which is invoiced on a VAT inclusive basis.

Lot Essay

During his travels in Italy, Wright visited Naples and Mount Vesuvius from early October to early November 1774. The last true eruption of Vesuvius had been in 1767, but Sir William Hamilton reported 'Vesuvius has never been free from smoke, nor ever many months without throwing up red hot SCORIAE ... usually followed by a current of liquid Lava'. He also stated that 'at Naples, when a lava appears...it is styled an eruption'. Wright may well have witnessed such lava at Vesuvius, and there is no doubt that the dramatic play of light appealed to his painterly sensibilities.

Exhibition scale treatments of the subject, painted in the mid-to-late 1770s include An Eruption of Versuvius, seen from Portici (University of Wales, Aberystwyth), Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples (Tate), and An Eruption of Mount Vesuvius with the Procession of St. Jenvarius's Head (Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts, Moscow). On stylistic grounds the present work appears to date from late in the artist's career.
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