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Elements in Turmoil – The eruption of Vesuvius as a key image of enlightenment's aesthetics of nature in England

Speaker: Valerie Hammerbacher (Stuttgart)

14.05.2012, 6 pm to 8 pm

Darmstadt: Technische Universität, Robert Piloty-Gebäude, Hochschulstraße 10, Raum S2-02 C 205.

With his painting “Vesuvius in Eruption with a View over the lslands in the sea of Naples“ from 1774, English artist Joseph Wright of Derby created a key image for English aesthetics of nature. The particular development of his landscape painting introduced a new visual subject into 18th century painterly discourse: the disaster landscape. Before, nature had served as a stage for the gods, was enmeshed in a literary context or used as topical reference. Now, Nature has become an actor in a specially staged spectacle, in which three layers of representation interpenetrate: the aesthetics of the sublime, the controversy between Neptunists and Vulcanists, and a re-evaluation of religious theories of earth's origin. Wright's painting shows an aesthetic alliance between science and religion and thus is a proposal for rediscovering nature in aesthetic shine after the disenchantment of the world.

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