The Last Days of Pompeii
On View: Beaux-Arts Court, East, 3rd Floor
The devastation of Pompeii by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 C.E. was an object of popular fascination starting in the mid-eighteenth century. At that time the volcano began a sustained period of renewed activity. Simultaneously, archaeologists began excavations of the ancient buried city.
The subject held strong appeal for Romantic painters on both sides of the Atlantic. European by birth, James Hamilton had a taste for the philosophical concept of the Sublime and an obsession with the cyclical nature of societies and civilizations. He applied these interests to the Roman Empire in The Last Days of Pompeii and the American Civil War in Foundering.
Painted during a devastating year of the war, Foundering features a failing ship tossed at sea. A flag of the Confederacy whips from the top of its mast.
Oil on canvas
59 15/16 x 48 1/16 in. (152.2 x 122 cm)
frame: 69 1/2 x 57 1/2 x 4 in., 96 lb. (176.5 x 146.1 x 10.2 cm, 43.55kg) (show scale)
Inscribed verso: "From Bulwers/ "The Last Days of Pompeii'/ Jas Hamilton/ Philada 1864"
Dick S. Ramsay Fund
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James Hamilton (American, 1819-1878). The Last Days of Pompeii, 1864. Oil on canvas, 59 15/16 x 48 1/16 in. (152.2 x 122 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Dick S. Ramsay Fund, 55.138 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 55.138_SL3.jpg)
overall, 55.138_SL3.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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