For centuries, artists and tourists were attracted to Mount Vesuvius, a volcano near Naples. This awe-inspriing, not to say terrifying, natural wonder destroyed the ancient Roman city of Pompeii, and continued to erupt from time to time, as it does to this day. While living in London in 1868, Albert Bierstadt heard that Vesuvius had erupted once again, and rushed immediately to Italy. It is not certain that the artist actually saw the cataclysm, although the painting presents a convincing image of the ash and lava spewed by the volcano. This is a smaller version of a larger canvas now lost.
Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, A Retrospective Exhibition: Albert Bierstadt 1830-1902 (5 August-13 September 1964), cat. no. 45, illus. as Mount Aetna.
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, Visions of Vesuvius (15 April-16 July 1978), no cat. number, listed p. 15, not illustrated.
Boston, Museum of Fine Arts, The Lure of Italy: American Artists and The Italian Experience, 1760-1914 (16 September-13 December 1992); traveled to Cleveland, The Cleveland Museum of Art (3 February-11 April 1993); to Houston, Museum of Fine Arts (23 May-8 August 1993), cat. no. 53, pp. 213, 229, 276-277, illus. p. 277.
The Cleveland Museum of Art (09/ 12/2012 - 01/07/2013 Getty Villa Malibu, CA; 02/24/2013 - 07/07/2013 Cleveland Museum of Art); "The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection"