tired of people - tagged/me
Animated by Me
Nature in Contrast
Sebastian Pether, The Eruption of Vesuvius, 1825, oil on panel, 12 x 16 7/8 in.
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
When I first saw this painting by Sebastian Pether, it evoked a dreamlike sense of the surreal and imaginary. Moments passed until I realized the scene was taken wholly from nature. Painted during the time of the Grand Tour’s popularity amongst European aristocrats, this scene depicts one of the Naples’s most well-known tourist attractions - the eruption of Mount Vesuvius.
Sebastian Pether was a painter of finely detailed landscape and moonlit scenes that displayed intense contrasts between light and dark. Here, Pether has focused attention on two opposing light sources to give us a dramatic view of Mount Vesuvius as it erupts. The molten lava stirs up heavy clouds of ash and casts an eerie red pallor over half of the painting as it spews forth from the volcano like lighting. The flowing red river of lava running down the mountain threatens bystanders even as the full moon shines onto the still, silver lake reflective of calm serenity. The human figures witnessing the eruption are all but unnoticeable, completely overshadowed by the frighteningly spectacular view. Even the moonlight pales by comparison.
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