Master Collection 19: earthquake
This is a gouache painting by an unknown Naples artist. It shows the town of Casamicciola, on the island of Ischia in Italy.
In the right foreground is a well. Fresh clean water from wells is important for drinking, as other sources of water can be contaminated. Cholera was prevalent across Europe in the 19th century and access to clean water was crucial to prevent spread of disease.
The next image shows what happened to this unfortunate town…
This newspaper cutting from the Pall Mall Gazette, 1883 reports a devastating earthquake in Ischia, with the town of Casamicciola...
almost entirely destroyed.
Over 2,000 people are reported killed and 1,000 injured. Only 5 houses remained standing in the town.
Some people had miraculous escapes. The Hotel Piccola Sentinella collapsed and buried many under the ruins.
One of the friends of the newspaper columnist staying there...
fled with nothing but a parcel of candles, most useful in the utter darkness. Another escaped amid falling walls and balconies, suffocating dust, and the cries of terrified people ‘To the sea! To the sea!’
Many people were watching a performance in a wooden theatre, which was...
literally torn open, allowing the audience to escape.
Under the picture, Rose Ellen Hubbard has inscribed:
Casamicciola, Ischia, scene of the earthquake of 1881.
Below this she’s added:
and of the severe earthquake of August 1883 when 3,000 persons were destroyed, and the town entirely ruined.