An Eruption that Left a Deep Impression

On 27 January 2019, by Philippe Dufour
Pierre-Jacques Volaire aka Le Chevalier Volaire (1729-1802), "L’Éruption du Vésuve depuis l’Atrio del Cavallo", oil on canvas, signed on the bottom right «Le Che. Volaire F.», 84 x 167.5 cm.
Result: €319,200

The painter Pierre-Jacques Volaire visited Naples in 1767. There he saw an eruption of Vesuvius that left such a deep impression on him that he decided to move there in 1769. He had to wait two more years before witnessing the major eruption of 14 May 1771, which inspired a series of views of the Campanian volcano much sought-after by the public of the time. And he very often chose an extremely intrepid place to set up his easel, halfway between the slopes of Vesuvius in a little valley called "Atrio di Cavallo", where tourists from all over Europe thronged to see the flowing lava – as we can see in this spectacular oil on canvas, which seems to burn with myriad red fires. Its impressive rendering led to a battle that almost quadrupled its initial estimate, culminating in €319,200: the third-highest price ever obtained by the artist (source: Artnet).

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