Herculaneum by Louis-Hector Leroux. 1881. Oil on canvas, 74 x 119 inches. Musée des Beaux-Arts, Dijon.

"Hector Leroux, in his Herculaneum, reveals a different aspect of the same drama. Herculaneum is further from Vesuvius than Pompeii. The experts therefore reckoned that the flow of lava took more time to submerge the town, gradually invading the lower parts first and then the heights. This inspired the idea of presenting a group of women waiting for the appalling end. Their wealth, at this moment, has lost all meaning, and while some accept their fate others seek salvation by praying lo the gods. At the sight of this scene the spectator is entitled to ask: what has happened to the men? Were Herculaneum and the whole of antiquity exclusively populated by young and beautiful women?" — Aleksa Celebonovic, p. 87.


Celebonovic, Aleksa. Some Call it Kitsch: Masterpieces of Bourgois Realism. Trans. Peter Willis. New York: Harry N. Abrams, [1974?].

Last modified 28 October 2004