Linda Hall Library of Science, Engineering, & Technology
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28. Stromboli Delighting Travelers, 1819

Russell, George. A tour through Sicily, in the year 1815. London: Sherwood, Neely and Jones, 1819.

The island and volcano of Stromboli, part of the Aeolian Isles, is notable because of its distinctive style of activity: it is in a state of almost continuous mild activity, but it never erupts explosively, which has always made it a magnet for tourists. Spallanzani produced a dramatic engraving of Stromboli in his 1792 Travels (see exhibit item 26), but others have also recorded visual impressions, and one of the most memorable is this illustration provided by George Russell in an account of his travels. Russell, an Englishman who toured Sicily in 1815, noted that Stromboli erupted about every seven minutes, sending stones high into the air. When viewed at night, the stones glowed a bright red and gave the appearance of fireworks.

Russell’s illustrations are of interest because they are aquatints, which became a popular medium for landscape illustration in the early nineteenth century. Other aquatints of volcanoes and basalt can be seen in this exhibition in the works of Dubourdieu (exhibit item 18), von Buch (exhibit item 37), and Garnett (exhibit item 57).