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

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


A photograph of Mt Saint Helens erupting in a column of dark smoke and ash.

Mount-St. Helens, May 18, 1980. U.S. Geological Survey / Robert Krimmel

Though not as deadly, the 1980 eruption of Mt. Saint Helens in Washington State rates the same on the Volcanic Explosivity Index as the 79 AD eruption of Vesuvius, both 5 out of a historic 8 for having ejected ash .3 cubic miles. Mt. Vesuvius is the type of volcano that erupts with cauliflower-shaped clouds that explode ash-laden gas into the atmosphere. Nonetheless, artists like Pierre-Jacques Antoine Volaire chose to depict his Vesuvius scenes with dramatic red lava flows, similar to the type of eruptions in the Kilauea volcano in Hawaii, seen in this video below.