Thursday 21st September 2017

Overdale Junior School


All week long we have had brilliant young students from  Overdale Junior School Leicester visiting Compton Verney looking at landscapes for a project they are doing.  #TakeOnePicture. They have all been so excited seeing the artworks for real rather than on the page or on the internet.


Pierre-Jacques Volaire was born in a large family of painters from Toulon (his grandfather Jean Volaire was a painter decorator in the arsenal, his father Jacques Volaire 2 official painter of the city), and in 1754 until 1762, the collaborator of Claude Joseph Vernet for his series of Ports of France . The influence of Vernet will mark a part of Volaire’s production, especially its marines.

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In 1762 Volaire settled in Rome , became a member of the Academy of Saint – Luc and knight. But competition in the art market determined him to settle in Naples in 1767, where he will remain from now on. It is a specialty of the representations of the Vesuvius in eruption. The volcano is then in full activity and Naples attracts the travelers of the ” Grand Tour ” (English, French, Germans, Russians) who constitute the clientele of the artist. Volcano will decline volcano eruptions from different points of view and in different formats. The success of his paintings encouraged competition among painters such as Jacob Philipp Hackert , Wütky ,Joseph Wright of Derby or Pietro Antoniani , and gives birth to the end of the xviii th century to the Neapolitan gouaches Pietro Fabris , Giovanni Battista Lusieri and Saverio Della Gatta .

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Volaire invented a kind of landscape that is no longer Vernet’s, nor neoclassical , but can be described as picturesque by the drama and color that characterize pre-Romantic landscapes . As for the subject itself, the eruption of the volcano, it suited the taste of the end of the xviii th century to natural disasters and the upheaval of the world.

During the 18th century, there was a growing appreciation for the beauty and a fear of nature. This developed into the Romantic School of Art. The school was mainly founded on the principle that nature is huge, powerful, and wild; man should be wary and afraid of the natural world. However, there was a certain quality of beauty in this terror. For example, natural catastrophes such as floods, storms, earthquakes, fires, avalanches, and erupting volcanoes inspire fear, but at the same time, these disasters demonstrated the raw beauty in natural chaos. Much of Romanticism paintings would take the form of landscapes in the visual arts (Hibberd). The first romantic paintings appeared in England during the 1760’s. The majority to these paintings however depicted wild landscapes and natural occurrences such as violent storms (“Romanticism”). Volaire was a relatively influential artist who used this kind of style. Volaire was known for painting volcanic activity; more specifically, Volaire painted Mount Vesuvius erupting. That is to say, Volaire painted more than one Mount Vesuvius eruption painting.


But, lets examine the romantic components presented in Volaire’s “The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius”. First off, the Volcano is the focus of the piece, and it is erupting at night. Volaire has vividly painted the fire being belched from the volcano top and streaming down the sides, illuminating the dark night around it. Secondly, the contrast of the cool night and the hot volcanic fire gives the painting a deeper beauty rather than if the volcano was erupting during the day. Next, lets zoom in to pay close attention to what is happening at the base of the volcano; at the base is the actual city of Pompeii. Notice how the lava flawlessly seems to gently ooze and cover the city, first by filling the streets, and secondly by lapping over the roofs as the flow becomes more thick. Finally, notice how the ash cloud is painted. At the center of action, the eruption, the plume seems to be hostile and inflamed; it seems to be almost electric and excited. By contrast the cloud seems to become cooler and gentler, almost like a cool wispy blanket as it moves over the water and towards the moon. These four components of “The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius” categorize the piece as an example of romanticism. The contrasts and details both inspire terror, as one imagines the great volcano belching its fiery contents, and serene beauty, as the lava moves gracefully over the town and cools over the calm and still bay. Volaire’s bold contrasts and artistic technique proved to influence other successful artists.


The artistic style of the 17th century was characterized by baroque painting (“Art”). However, Pierre-Jacques Volaire painted “The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius” in 1777. Even though the painting was finished almost a century after the end of the widespread use of the baroque school, “The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius” still has elements of this powerful school. For a painting to be considered Baroque, there must be an overly dramatic expression of deep and profound emotion. Figures in the works of art would adore deeply over exaggerated faces, usually in terror, agony, happiness, or depression. The school is most commonly associated with religious paintings which depict various stories from the bible in great emotional detail (“The Baroque”). Nevertheless, the movement spread to non-religious forums such as Volaire’s work. To see the baroque element of “The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius”, you have to examine the bottom of the painting. If you pay close attention to the people on the ramp heading to the docks, you can clearly see the Baroque elements at play. Along the ramp, we can clearly see different deep expressions of terror as citizens are fleeing with their hands raised and clothes flying behind them as the run for the ships. In addition to terror, we can see other people stopping to stare in amazement at the scene unfolding around them.


When you look at Pierre- Jacques Volaire’s “The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius”, you can see that Volaire has incorporated the social discussion of differing viewpoints into his work. The conversation is that events can take on different meanings and significance depending on your experience. There are three perspectives used in this work: the citizens in close proximity and in the city of Pompeii, the people who are waiting to board ships at the harbor, and those people who are already on the ships. To those people close in proximity and in the city of Pompeii, there is no beauty in the eruption. From their perspective the eruption is their death, and they can see no beauty in this event. If you look closely at the gates of Pompeii, the blurry figures fleeing the city seem to be clamoring away as chaos ensues. For those who are experiencing misfortune, there is no beauty; they only see the destructive power of nature. What is interesting is the perspective of those who have fled Pompeii and are waiting to board ships. These people can see the beauty of nature, as they are at a distance; however, not to long ago they were running in complete panic from the ash cloud and lava. They are the ones who can truly grasp the idea of natures beauty and power. One way that you can tell this is by observing a solemn figure holding what resembles a scroll up in the air to the eruption.This figure is enjoying the beauty while remembering the feeling of fear that he had experienced earlier. Finally, the people on the ships have the polar opposite perspective of those people who are still in the city of Pompeii; these people are outside observers who are watching from safety. They most certainly understand that the lava is a terrifying and horrifying force, however they are most likely only seeing the raw beauty behind the eruption.


It is no wonder that Pierre- Jacques Volaire choose to paint the destruction of the City of Pompeii, Volaire was enamored with the beautiful violence of volcanoes. In fact, in 1764 Volaire moved to Naples, Italy and lived right across from Mount Vesuvius (Hamilton). Mount Vesuvius was the pinnacle of natural beauty and terror in the eyes of Volaire making it the perfect subject for his work in the Romantic school of art. Volaire used the destruction of the city of Pompeii, the sublimity and awesome power of nature, the drama of the baroque school, and the idea of differing perspectives to create his masterpiece, “The Eruption of Mt. Vesuvius”.


Mount Vesuvius has erupted many times. The famous eruption in AD 79 was preceded by numerous others in prehistory, including at least three significantly larger ones, the best known being the Avellino eruption around 1800 BC which engulfed several Bronze Age settlements. Since AD 79, the volcano has also erupted repeatedly, in 172, 203, 222, possibly in 303, 379, 472, 512, 536, 685, 787, around 860, around 900, 968, 991, 999, 1006, 1037, 1049, around 1073, 1139, 1150, and there may have been eruptions in 1270, 1347, and 1500.[19] The volcano erupted again in 1631, six times in the 18th century (especially in 1779 and 1794), eight times in the 19th century (notably in 1872), and in 1906, 1929 and 1944. There have been no eruptions since 1944, and none of the eruptions after AD 79 were as large or destructive as the Pompeian one.


The eruptions vary greatly in severity but are characterized by explosive outbursts of the kind dubbed Plinian after Pliny the Younger, a Roman writer who published a detailed description of the 79 AD eruption, including his uncle’s death.
On occasion, eruptions from Vesuvius have been so large that the whole of southern Europe has been blanketed by ash; in 472 and 1631, Vesuvian ash fell on Constantinople (Istanbul), over 1,200 kilometres (750 mi) away. A few times since 1944, landslides in the crater have raised clouds of ash dust, raising false alarms of an eruption.


Carlo Bonavia (died 1788) was an Italian painter known for idyllic landscape paintings, engravings and drawings. He was active from 1740 until his death. He is thought to be from Rome, but worked in Naples from about 1751 to 1788. He was trained in the Neapolitan landscape tradition of Salvator Rosa (1615–1673) and Leonardo Coccorante (1680–1750), but was much more strongly influenced by the work of Claude Joseph Vernet, who visited Naples in 1737 and 1746.

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Bonavia’s paintings share with Vernet’s a rococo palette of pale blues, creamy yellows, pinks and soft green, as well as an atmospheric, rather than analytical, approach to landscape. Like Vernet, Bonavia painted capricci in which real features of the Neapolitan countryside were placed in imaginary settings. Bonavia’s idyllic landscapes were popular souvenirs of the Grand Tour. Among his patrons were Lord Brudenell and Count Karl Joseph Firmian, the Austrian ambassador to Naples 1753-8. Bonavia had a very successful career and was praised by Pietro Zani in his Enciclopedia Metodica Critico Ragionata delle Belle Arte (1794) as a fine painter of views and history subjects.


Caspar van Wittel or Gaspar van Wittel (born Jasper Adriaensz van Wittel, Italian 1652 or 1653, Amersfoort – September 13, 1736, Rome) was a Dutch painter and draughtsman who had a long career in Rome. He played a pivotal role in the development of the genre of topographical painting known as veduta.
He is credited with turning topography into a painterly specialism in Italian art.

Van Wittel was born into a Roman Catholic family. His father was a cart maker.Caspar studied painting in Amersfoort with the relatively obscure Thomas Jansz van Veenendaal for 4 or 5 years and then with the better known Matthias Withoos for 7 years.

His first extant works were made in Hoorn in 1672 to where he had fled after the French invasion and occupation of Amersfoort in the Rampjaar. He returned to Amersfoort where he was active until 1674, the year in which he left for Italy together with his friend Jacob van Staverden, another pupil of Withoos.

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Like his former teacher Withoos, he joined the Bentvueghels, an association of mainly Dutch and Flemish artists working in Rome. His nickname in the Bentveughels was “Piktoors” (Pitch-torch) or “Toorts van Amersfoort” (Torch of Amersfoort).
He was also nicknamed ‘Gasparo dagli Occhiali’ (Gaspare with the spectacles). He worked in Rome together with the Flemish painter Abraham Genoels and may even have been his pupil. Other collaborators included Hendrik Frans van Lint who would become one of the leading vedute painters in the first half of the 18th century.

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In 1697 van Wittel married Anna Lorenzani. His first son Luigi was born in 1700. Luigi became a famous architect and used the italianized family name of Vanvitelli. A second son was born in 1702.

Van Wittel spent almost all his life in Italy where he arrived in 1674 and died in 1736. He lived mainly in Rome but, particularly between 1694 and 1710, he also toured the country and painted in Florence, Bologna, Ferrara, Venice, Milan, Piacenza, Urbino, and Naples. He became member of the Accademia di San Luca in Rome in 1711. He made his last dated work in 1730.


Pietro Fabris (active 1740 – 1792) was a painter of Italian descent, active in England and Naples. Pietro is best known for work he completed for the dilettante geologist, the diplomat Sir William Hamilton, which included a number of engravings based on his paintings that depicted contemporary volcanic activity collected in two books, Observations on Mount Vesuvius, Mount Etna, &c. (London, 1774) and Campi Phlegraei: Observations on the Volcanoes of the Two Sicilies (Naples, 1776). He also painted some soires sponsored by Hamilton, including one that included a young Mozart at the harpsichord. In other works he produced for sale, he painted Bamboccianti scenes, genre paintings of local folk in native garb at work or play.

The biography of Fabris is poorly documented. He is suspected to have been born in England to a Venice-trained stage set designer called Jacobo Fabris. Pietro, as a young man, was patronized by the diplomat Hamilton to accompany him and visually reproduce for him on his jaunts to visit the volcanic sites in Mount Etna, Mount Vesuvius, and Lipari islands. His paintings and drawings were exhibited in 1768 in the London Free Society and in 1772 in the London Society of Artists of Great Britain. Fabris became acquainted with painter Antonio Joli in Naples.

Chalmers, James, active 1852-1857; The 'Eagle Tavern', Hammersmith, London

J Charmers The Eagle Tavern.

This painting features a tavern in Hammersmith, London. It was commissioned by the landlord Mr Bott perhaps to commemorate changing the name from ‘The Lady of the Lake Inn’ to ‘The Eagle’. It is a wonderful depiction of Victorian life.
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Mr Bott and his son are standing at the top of steps that lead to the front door. Positioned in the middle of the painting, higher than all the other characters, they appear very important. Mr Bott is wearing an apron to show he is hard working, while his son wears what could be a school uniform. A manservant is waiting to greet people to this popular place. The advert for the coffee shop in the tavern window

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In the foreground are people from all walks of life: rich and poor, young and old. Mr Bott appears to look over them all. This painting not only shows how the Inn is the centre of the community but is also a successful advertisement. We discover that the Eagle Inn has a tea garden, coffee room and shop and Mr Bott makes a special drink called London Porter.

Chalmers, James, active 1852-1857; Hincheslea House, Brockenhurst

Hincheslea House, Brockenhurst


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