This melodramatic scene of a family trying to escape the A.D. 79 eruption of Vesuvius, a volcano in southern Italy, was inspired by the report of a French archeologist excavating in Pompeii in 1813. Discover more about this painting during the next Spotlight Gallery Conversations, this Thursday, Friday, or Saturday at 11:00 a.m.

Scene during the Eruption of Vesuvius,” c. 1827, by Joseph Franque

Pliny the Younger and his Mother at Misenum, 79 A.D., Angelica Kaufmann, 1785. Oil on canvas: 103 x 127.5 cm (40 9/16 x 50 3/16 in.)  Princeton University Art Museum, Princeton, NJ via

As Mount Vesuvius erupts in the distance, the young Pliny continues his studies at his family’s villa—despite being urged to flee. Meanwhile, his uncle, Pliny the Elder, is sailing toward Vesuvius and will die trying to rescue a friend. Pliny’s letters comprise one of the great records of the catastrophe that destroyed Pompeii and Herculaneum. In one, he tells of being able to “hear the wails of women, the cries of children, the shouts of men … others were reaching to the gods … others declared the gods no more.”

This is one of three large-scale history paintings Angelica Kauffmann produced in Italy in 1785 for a Mr. Bowles, an English patron. As was noted when the work was first exhibited at London’s Royal Academy in 1786, Pliny has two left feet. The reason for this may be that Kauffmann, then among the most popular artists in Rome, evidently relied on her less talented husband, Antonio Zucchi, to complete many of her commissions.

Gallery Label -

The eruption of Mount Vesuvius began on this date, August 24, in 79 C.E. The towns of Pompeii and Herculaneum were buried by tons of pumice, ash, and mud over a period of 25 hours. It is estimated that 13,000 people perished as a result of the eruption. 


Pompeii victims, Italy

When Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79 A.D., many of its victims in Pompeii were buried under mounds of pumice and ash that hardened over them like a mold, hardening them and suffocating them in time.

Notice how some are covering their mouth and nose

anonymous asked:

No wait tell us about taking Latin, what was that like

hilarious, because there’s no modern context?? for any of it??? like. we learned the basics of an ancient roman house and the language that would be involved with daily roman life. there’s no real latin word for computer or cell phone because? they didn’t? exist??? but we learned shit like ‘pestis’ and ‘furcifer!’

like, sure, that seems harmless, but literally the last paragraph says “the cook watches the slave girl. the slave girl pleases grumio [the cook]. grumio pleases the slave girl. grumio is Very Happy.” like. my teacher was like ha HA, wonder what that means, and i was like, holy shit, did they just fuck?

our book was by cambridge and centered around a dude named caecilius and his family. then once you make it through the course, he dies with his dog, cerberus, in the wake of the eruption of vesuvius.