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Scene during the Eruption of Vesuvius

Joseph Franque, French (active Naples), 1774 - 1833

Made in France, Europe

c. 1827

Oil on canvas

9 feet 8 1/2 inches × 7 feet 6 inches (295.9 × 228.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
European Painting

* Gallery 393, European Art 1500-1850, third floor

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Purchased with the George W. Elkins Fund, 1972

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This melodramatic scene of a family trying to escape the A.D. 79 eruption of Vesuvius, a volcano in southern Italy, was inspired by the report of a French archeologist excavating in Pompeii in 1813. "A mother fled, dragging after her a part of her family: two daughters, and an infant whom she clutched in vain against her breast. . . . The ash covered them, burying them all in the same tomb; their remains were mingled, and almost indistinguishable from one another." The report goes on to describe jewelry found with the remains, including the mother's earrings and the serpent ring worn by the standing girl.


Sale, Hôtel Drouot, Paris, January 19, 1969 [?]; purchased by Mme T. André Cabanel (dealer) [1]; sold to Heim Gallery, London, by 1972; sold to PMA, 1972. 1. The auction date is given by Madame Cabanel in a letter dated August 20, 1973 (curatorial file); however, no record of a Hôtel Drouot sale for this date has been found, nor does the painting appear in other Drouot sales for January.

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