Vesuvius Erupting at Night

Vesuvius Erupting at Night

William Marlow, English, 1740-1813
Born: London, England
Work Locations: England, France, Italy
Active Years: -1883
Oil paint on canvas
Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust

William Marlow 
British, 1740–1813
Vesuvius Erupting at Night, 1768 
Oil paint on canvas
Gift of the Berger Collection Educational Trust, 2019.17

This object is currently on view
image height: 35 1/2 in, 90.1700 cm; image width: 49 in, 124.4600 cm; frame height: 43 1/4 in, 109.8550 cm; frame width: 56 3/4 in, 144.1450 cm; frame depth: 2 3/4 in, 6.9850 cm
European and American Art Before 1900
European Painting and Sculpture before 1900

Born in London, William Marlow is best known for his views of his native city and the River Thames. Following a sojourn in Italy, during which he witnessed the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, the volcano outside Naples whose eruption destroyed the city of Pompeii in A.D. 79, he painted the Berger picture, the first by a British artist to represent the subject. He exhibited the painting at the Society of Artists exhibition in London in 1768, prompting this rapturous response from a reviewer: “A dreadful scene! but so elegant is the execution . . . that while we look with pleasure on its beauties, we cannot help getting into the belief that we are indeed on the spot, and really beholding an eruption of that terrible volcano.”

Known Provenance
Thos. Agnew & Sons, London; Paul Mellon Collection (as Joseph Wright of Derby), by 1969; Stanley Moss & Company, Riverdale-on-Hudson, New York; from which acquired by William M. B. Berger and Bernadette Johnson Berger, Denver, 1998; Berger Collection Educational Trust; gifted to the Denver Art Museum, 2019. Provenance research is on-going at the Denver Art Museum and we will post information as it becomes available. Please e-mail, if you have questions, or if you have additional information to share with us.
Exhibition History
  • “Treasures from the Berger Collection: British Paintings 1400-2000” — Denver Art Museum, 10/2/2014 – 9/9/2018

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