Learn more about the artists, places, and themes in this exhibition.

Eruption of Mount Vesuvius with the Ponte della Maddalena in the Distance,


A modern photograph of Mount Vesuvius, viewed across a body of water with a curve of land on the left, similar to the layout of Volaire's painting.

View in the evening of the Gulf of Naples and Mount Vesuvius in the distance. Frans Sellies / Getty Images

Vesuvius is the only active volcano in Europe, located on the gulf of Naples, Italy. Famous for its eruption in 79 AD, which destroyed nearby ancient cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, it has exploded as recently as 1944, spewing lava and ash for two weeks during World War II.


A photograph of the erupting Mount Vesuvius with clouds and smoke in the background and Naples in the foreground.

View of an eruption column (or plume of ash and gas) from Mount Vesuvius, as seen over the rooftops of Naples, Italy, mid March, 1944. (Photo by George Rodger/The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images)