Eruption of Vesuvius - Joseph Wright.
The plot is repeated several times in the paintings of a man who lived in the 18th century. In total, four paintings and one sketch in gouache depicting the eruption of this volcano are known.
All paintings were created in the period from 1773 to 1775. The first, Vesuvius, View from Portici, is located in the Huntington Library (San Marino, California). The canvas depicts a volcano with a high column of fire with the city located near its foot. Next to it smokes red earth from the lava. Most of the picture is occupied by the image of smoke swirling and flying far to the horizon, mixing with clouds, sparks fly - the picture shows a night eruption, and a huge burning mountain with a halo of smoke looks very ominous.
There is a similar picture depicting the eruption of Vesuvius at night, with a tree in the foreground.
The second picture is “Vesuvius with Posillipo” (Yale Center for British Art), which shows an image visible from across the bay. The land with the buildings and the ship in the lower right part of the picture are shaded, the lower left corner of the picture is very dark, which makes it look far away, behind the masts of the ship of the visible volcano with a pink glow around its burning vents, bewitching. The sky is partly open, and behind the volcanic dust and clouds you can see a greenish sky, on which the sun is dimly shining.
There is a similar picture with the same plot, but a little rougher written, located in a private collection.
Wright’s painting, “Eruption of Vesuvius over the Islands in the Gulf of Naples”, is also known. A red, lava-filled volcano with a pillar of fire escaping from its top, surrounded by streaks of smoke and ash, above the water of the bay with islands shaded by smoke. In the foreground - from left to right, a stretching mountain trail along which three people run, fleeing from a flaming mountain. The front two are still the person affected by the eruption. Behind them, parallel to the path, everything is covered with a blood-red color with lava, from which smoke spreads above the ground.
In addition, there is a sketch of the erupting Vesuvius, made as if from a small distance from it. It was done carelessly and quickly - a dark blue blurred background and a mustard-colored lava and volcano fire, dark, unformed clouds of ash indicate that perhaps the artist was sketching directly on the open air, next to the volcano. However, it should be noted that in general during the years of writing the cycle of paintings, the eruption of the famous volcano did not occur - the author of the paintings drew stories from the imagination.
All canvases contain a heavenly luminary, but it is rather difficult to guess whether it is the moon or the sun. For example, in a picture depicting an eruption over islands in the bay, in the sky in the gap between smoke and clouds, something is partially visible in the color and texture created by the artist, similar to the moon. However, it leaves uncharacteristic light on the water near the horizon.
On the canvas "Vesuvius from Portici" far, beyond the horizon, you can see a pale, roundish spot that resembles the sun or moon. But against the backdrop of a huge, pink-glowing pillar of fire, it seems transparent. Apparently, Wright tried to convey the atmosphere of the eruption of Vesuvius (although he did not observe it), playing with shadows and light from different sources (so that the lights do not become so bright in these paintings as the flames and lava erupting from the vent of the volcano) - it's like times what Joseph Wright was famous for with many of his paintings.