207
207
Pierre-Jacques Volaire
VESUVIUS ERUPTING BY MOONLIGHT WITH SPECTATORS IN THE FOREGROUND; VESUVIUS ERUPTING AT NIGHT WITH SPECTATORS LOOKING ON FROM THE FOREGROUND
Estimate
80,000120,000
LOT SOLD. 116,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT
207
Pierre-Jacques Volaire
VESUVIUS ERUPTING BY MOONLIGHT WITH SPECTATORS IN THE FOREGROUND; VESUVIUS ERUPTING AT NIGHT WITH SPECTATORS LOOKING ON FROM THE FOREGROUND
Estimate
80,000120,000
LOT SOLD. 116,500 GBP
JUMP TO LOT

Details & Cataloguing

Defining Taste
Works selected by Danny Katz

|
London

Pierre-Jacques Volaire
TOULON 1729 - 1799 ITALY
VESUVIUS ERUPTING BY MOONLIGHT WITH SPECTATORS IN THE FOREGROUND; VESUVIUS ERUPTING AT NIGHT WITH SPECTATORS LOOKING ON FROM THE FOREGROUND
Quantity: 2
the former signed lower centre: le cer Volaire fecit
the latter signed lower centre: le c.er Volaire/ fecit.
a pair, both oil on canvas
each: 56 by 76.2 cm.; 22 by 30 in.
Read Condition Report Read Condition Report

Provenance

Sale, Paris, Hôtel Drouot, Escribe et Coulon, 24-26 March 1879, lots 190 and 191;
Sale, Versailles, Palais des Congrés, 1 June 1969, lot 27;
Duke of Savoy, Paris;
Cabinet Blondeau-Bréton, Paris;
With Simon C. Dickinson Ltd., London.

Literature

E. Beck Saiello, Pierre Jacques Volaire 1729-1799, Paris 2010, pp. 144-145, 254, cat. nos. P.119-120, both reproduced in colour. 

Catalogue Note

This elegant pair of paintings depicts the eruption of Mount Vesuvius which took place in 1794. They were painted at a time in the artist’s career when he had established himself as the pre-eminent painter of volcanic scenes in Naples and had spent over 20 years in the city. Volaire’s sensationalist images were largely aimed at, and highly sought after by, the constant flow of Grand Tourists who visited Naples and its environs. Eminent collectors of his works included the famous English collector of antiquities, Charles Townley.

In the second half of the 18th century Mount Vesuvius entered an intense phase of seismic activity. This coincided with Volaire’s arrival in Naples in 1769 and eruptions occurred regularly in 1771, 1773, 1774, 1775, 1776 and 1779. Volaire seems to have visited and worked en plein air during these eruptions.  Many of his earlier images depict figures fleeing the molten lava but by 1794 either the violence of the eruptions had lessened, the local populace had become more accustomed to them or Volaire had adapted his depictions of the natural phenomenon to suit the tastes of his patrons. The present pair, with the elegantly dressed figures marvelling at the spectacle rather than fleeing in fear for their lives, is typical of his work from the late 1780s and 1790s. Volaire painted at least two other known depictions of the 1794 eruptions.1

1. See Literature, cat. nos. P. 122 and P 123, p. 256.

Defining Taste
Works selected by Danny Katz

|
London