Monday, April 19, 2010

The Year Without a Summer

J M W Turner 'Chichester Canal' c.1828

Artists took up their brushes after the eruption of Mt Tambora in 1815 as the high levels of ash in the atmosphere caused spectacular sunsets.  The yellow haze was the prime feature in many of Turner's paintings following the eruption.

A similar phenomenon was seen after Krakatoa erupted in 1883.  William Ashcroft painted several and made thousands of coloured sketches of the red sunsets around the world after the explosion.

William Ashcroft 'On the Banks of the River Thames' 1883

The pall of darkness inspired poet Lord Byron to write 'Darkness' the year after Tambora.  Below is an excerpt from the poem.  The writing of this poem also occurred only months after the ending of his marriage.

I had a dream, which was not all a dream.
The bright sun was extinguish'd, and the stars
did wander darkling in the eternal space,
rayless, and pathless, and the icy earth
swung blind and blackening in the moonless air;
Morn came and went - and came, and brought no day,
And men forgot their passions in the dread
of this their desolation; and all hearts
were chill'd into a selfish prayer for light...


RNSANE said...

It is hard to imagine darkness created by the volcanic expulson of so much ash into the atmosphere. Here in California, we haven't seen any results from the Iceland explosion but it could be far reaching.

alaine@éclectique said...

Hi Carmen, one also wonders how long it will go on and imagine the health concerns as well. Thanks for visiting!

Wanda said...

I've been reading of the Laki eruption of 1783, which continued for eight long months. Such devastation and deaths in Europe were seen then!

Derrick said...

Couldn't be more appropriate, Alaine. We have been experiencing beautiful blue skies and sunshine, which makes it hard to believe all that volcanic ash is in the atmosphere. My sister is supposed to fly to Australia tomorrow evening. It looks increasingly doubtful!

Paul C said...

It's so interesting to see painters and poets depicting these calamities. Well researched. Thanks.

alaine@éclectique said...

Wanda, thank you, I didn't know of that one. Yes, the fallout, excuse the pun, would be worse than planes not flying.

alaine@éclectique said...

Derrick...the same here. I hope your sister's plane gets off the ground; I'm worried about it going on longer, as we have already paid for our tickets to Italy and we're visiting Norway as well. November is a long way off but we don't know how long it will go on!

alaine@éclectique said...

Paul C...thank you; yes, nature's calamities bringing out the best of human nature!

maggie's garden said...

Hi Alaine,
I've missed you...needed to tidy up a bit, but back in the the routine once again.
Those paintings are eerie. I can't even imagine it. We too have had beautiful blue skies. It must be very difficult for all those travelers that are stuck without a way home. I hear there might be an end in sight soon at least for the ash part of the volcano...still much lava to present its problems though. Are you seeing the ash there?

alaine@éclectique said...

Maggie...hi, it's good to have a spring clean! We've been pruning and mowing; the grass has got to stop growing soon - please!

No, the fallout hasn't reached us but I heard on the news this morning that the volcano has started erupting again and that the ash is heading for Britain!

It's good that you're back on board, Karen. ♥a

Tracy said...

Very timely, Alaine... Enjoyed seeing this wondrous paintings... We are soon to leave for a trip to the USA in 3 weeks, we are hoping the Island situation will not have us needing to change out flights--we shall see! Happy Day :o)

alaine@éclectique said...

Hello Tracy, I do hope all will be well for your flight. Presuming so, have a wonderful visit to the US and I'll look forward to stories of your trip. Thank you for visiting, dear friend. ♥a