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“Ruins in the Wake of Mt. Vesuvius”

Charles Caryl Coleman (American, 1840–1928) c. 1906

During his tenure on the Island of Capri, American expatriate artist Charles Caryl Coleman witnessed with awe and fascination the 1906 eruption of Italy’s famed Mount Vesuvius. Coleman documented the drama and destruction wrought by the volcano, here in gouache with wash on paper. Although art historian Regina Soria dates the present documented work to c. 1914, more recent scholarship done by Adrienne Baxter Bell (author of the forthcoming catalogue raisonné on Coleman), as well as recently deciphered pencil inscriptions on the work, indicate April 10th or 18th, 1906, as a more likely date for this unusual and quite graphic scene.

Markings on the reverse of the board suggest that this gouache was included in an exhibition – probably in June 1906 – as part of a one-man show at the New York galleries of John C. Hoe. Charles Caryl Coleman participated in numerous subsequent prestigious single-artist exhibitions and, in addition to other honors throughout his life – including a silver medal at the Pan American Exposition – was elected an associate of the National Academy.

The present work remained part of the artist’s estate and descended through the family of his heirs. Larger than most related gouache or pastel examples, it is dramatic in scale as well as the drama of its scene.

Provenance: Estate of the artist to Rose O’Neill (heir); thence sold by her heirs at Butterfield & Butterfield Auctioneers 3/17/88 (wherein catalogued and titled by Regina Soria).