Place made
Derby, England
oil on canvas
54.0 x 77.5 cm
Credit line
James and Diana Ramsay Fund 2008
Accession number
Signature and date
Signed l.r., oil, "I.W.P". Not dated.
Private collection; purchased from Christie’s Old Master and British Pictures sale 7575, London, 25 April 2008, lot 89, for the James and Diana Ramsay Fund 2008.
Media category
Collection area
British paintings
  • WALL LABEL: Metamorphosis, collection display 2023

    Joseph Wright began his career as one of Britain foremost portrait painters, but, following a visit to Italy between 1773 and 1775, he turned his gaze to landscape painting, becoming recognised for his deep understanding and exploration of light. Wright visited the Bay of Naples in 1774, finding its awe-inspiring view of Mount Vesuvius particularly moving. Although the artist did not witness the eruption of the volcano himself, his imagination has envisioned the subliminal majesty of this natural phenomenon. By painting predominantly in a muted palette of greys, blacks and browns, Wright accentuates the role of light and reflection in capturing the essence of this scene: the reflected moonlight draws the viewer into the painting, while the trail of molten lava on the side of Mount Vesuvius highlights the strange and other-worldly glow of the pink-red clouds above.

    This landscape had a profound and transformative impact on Wright and, throughout the course of his career, he produced thirty different versions of this scene.  

    Tansy Curtin, Curator of International Art Pre-1980

  • Making Nature: Masters of European Landscape Art

    Art Gallery of South Australia, 26 June 2009 – 6 September 2009