The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Forum, Pompeii, with Vesuvius in the Distance

Object Details


The Forum, Pompeii, with Vesuvius in the Distance


Christen Schjellerup Købke (Danish, 1810 - 1848)






Oil on canvas

Object Number:



70.8 × 87.9 cm (27 7/8 × 34 5/8 in.)

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Object Description

Under a brilliant, clear blue sky, a sense of stillness and abandonment prevails in this scene, reinforced by creeping vegetation, grazing goats, and lizards scurrying across a dirt path. Behind the ancient city of Pompeii, Vesuvius silently looms, its presence serving as a terrifying reminder of the havoc it wrought in A.D. 79, when the city and its residents were buried beneath its molten lava. Christen Schjellerup Købke drew the architectural remains of the forum with sharp precision, giving the painting a sense of order and clarity. He added a sense of drama by intensifying the contrast between light and dark, painting the foreground fragments almost completely in shadow.

Excavations of the buried city began in 1748 and continue to this day. Scholars and curiosity seekers came in droves to see the ancient ruins. Købke was one of many artists to visit the site, where he made detailed studies. After returning to his native Copenhagen, he set to work on this painting.

1841 - 1842

Christen Schjellerup Købke, Danish, 1810 - 1848 (Copenhagen, Denmark), by gift to the Kunstforeningen, 1842.


Kunstforeningen (Copenhagen, Denmark), offered as a prize in lottery, won by Mr. Larpent, 1842.

1842 -

Mr. Larpent (Denmark)

before 1883 -

Mr. Wright (Elsinore, Denmark)

by 1884 - still in 1893
by 1915 - 1930

K. Brandt [unsold, Brandt sale, Winkel & Magnussen, April 30-May 1, 1930, lot 76], by inheritance within the Brandt family.


Brandt Family, by inheritance to E. V. Brandt.


E. V. Brandt, by bequest to Svend Kragh-Jacobsen.
Source: JPGM Paintings Department, curatorial files, letter from Kasper Monrad, March 17, 1987.

by 1965 - 1984

Svend Kragh-Jacobsen, 1909 - 1984 [sold, Kragh-Jacobsen sale, Arne Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen, October 2, 1984, lot 6, to Artemis Fine Arts Ltd.]

1984 - 1985

Artemis Fine Arts Ltd. (London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1985.

Danish Royal Academy Exhibition (1842)
  • Palais de Charlottenborg, Copenhagen, 1842
Malerier og Studier af Christen Schiellerup Købke (1884)
  • Kunstforeningen (Copenhagen), 1884
Christen Købkes Malerier (March to April, 1912)
  • Kunstforeningen (Copenhagen), March to April 1912
Dansk Kunst, 1825-1855 (September 12 to October 19, 1975)
The Golden Age of Danish Painting (October 24, 1993 to August 7, 1994)
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), October 24, 1993 to January 2, 1994
  • The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), February 10 to April 24, 1994
  • Statens Museum for Kunst (Copenhagen), May 21 to August 7, 1994
Christen Købke, 1810-1848 (February 10 to May 5, 1996)
  • Statens Museum for Kunst (Copenhagen), February 10 to May 5, 1996
From Caspar David Friedrich to Gerhard Richter: German Paintings from Dresden (October 6, 2006 to April 29, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), October 6, 2006 to April 29, 2007
Pompeii and the Roman Villa (October 19, 2008 to October 4, 2009)
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), October 19, 2008 to March 22, 2009
  • Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Los Angeles), May 3 to October 4, 2009
The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection (September 12, 2012 to July 7, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), September 12, 2012 to January 7, 2013
  • The Cleveland Museum of Art (Cleveland), February 24 to July 7, 2013

Reitzel, Carl. Fortegnelse over Danske Kunstneres Arbejder paa de ved det Kgl. Akademi for de Skjønne Kunster, I Aarene 1807-1882, afholdte Charlottenborg-Udstillinger (Copenhagen: Thieles Bogtrykkeri, 1883), p. 363.

Katalog over Malerier og Studier af Christen Schiellerup Købke, exh. cat. (Copenhagen: Thieles Bogtrykkeri, 1884), p. 13, no. 92.

Hannover, Emil. Maleren Christen Købke, en studie i dansk kunsthistorie (Copenhagen: Kunstforeningen, 1893), pp. 114, 149, no. 134.

Fortegnelse over Christen Købkes Malerier, Kunstforeningen, Marts-April 1912, exh. cat. (Copenhagen: F. E. Bording, 1912), p. 21, no. 168.

Krohn, Mario. Maleren Christen Købkes: arbejder illustreret fortegnelse (Copenhagen: Kunstforeningen, 1915), pp. 74, 76-78, 105, no. 170, ill.

"C. S. Købke: 60 autotypier i tontryk efter fotografier af originalerne." Smaa Kunstbøger, no. 15 (Copenhagen: G. E. C. Gads Forlag, 1920), p. 62, ill.

Thieme, Ulrich, Felix Becker, and Hans Vollmer, eds. Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler von der Antike bis zur Gegenwart. 37 vols. (Leipzig: Seeman, 1907-50), vol. 21 (1927), p. 104.

Madsen, Karl. Tegninger af Christen Købke (Copenhagen: Berlingske Bogtrykkeri, 1929), unpaginated.

Jakobsen, Kristian. "Christen Købke i Pompeji." Fynske Minder. 1965 (Odense: Fyns boghandels forlag, 1966), pp. 215-32, fig. 4.

Ontmoetingen met Italië: Tekenaars uit Scandinavië, Duitsland, Nederland in Italië, 1770-1840, exh. cat. (Amsterdam: Meijer Wormerveer, 1971), p. 72, under no. 136.

Jørnæs, Bjarne, ed. Dansk Kunst, 1825-1855, exh. cat. (Copenhagen: Kunstforeningen, 1975), p. 66, no. 73, ill.

Arne Bruun Rasmussen, Copenhagen. Malerier, Antikviteter, Bøger og Vin. October 2-16, 1984, pp. 14-15, lot 6, ill.

"The Sale Room." Apollo 121, no. 277 (March 1985), p. 213.

Fischer, Erik, et al., eds. Von Abildgaard bis Marstrand: Meisterzeichnungen der Kopenhagener Schule aus dem Besitz der Königlichen Kupferstichsammlung Kopenhagen, exh. cat. (Munich: Neue Pinakothek, 1985), p. 69, under no. 75, entry by Erik Fischer.

"Acquisitions/1985." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 14 (1986), p. 224, no.136, ill.

Fischer, Erik, et al., eds. Zeichnungen aus Dänemark von Abildgaard, Juel, Eckersberg, Købke, Lundbye und Marstrand: Kopenhagener Schule des 18. und. 19. Jahrhunderts aus dem Besitz der Könliglichen Kupferstichsammlung in Kopenhagen, exh. cat. (Berlin: Nationalgalerie, 1989), p. 72, under no. 75, entry by Erik Fischer.

Schwartz, Sanford. Christen Købke (New York: Timken, 1992), pp. 55-56, pl. 72.

Monrad, Kasper, et al., eds. The Golden Age of Danish Painting, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, with Hudson Hills Press, 1993), pp. 171, 175, no. 76, ill., entry by Kasper Monrad.

Nørregård-Nielsen, Hans Edvard, and Kasper Monrad, eds. Christen Købke, 1810-1848, exh. cat. W. Glyn Jones, trans. (Copenhagen: Statens Museum for Kunst, 1996), pp. 94, 311-12, 376, no. 170, ill., entry by Kasper Monrad.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 68, ill.

Ottani Cavina, Anna, ed. Paysages d'Italie: les peintres du plein air (1780-1830), exh. cat. (Paris: Réunion des musées nationaux, with Electa, 2001), p. 330, under no. 205, entry by Kasper Monrad.

Hipp, Elisabeth. "Paintings from the Galerie Neue Meister at the J. Paul Getty Museum." In From Caspar David Friedrich to Gerhard Richter: German Paintings from Dresden, exh. cat. Jon L. Seydl and Anna Greve, eds. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006), p. 24, fig. 4.

Berman, Patricia G. In Another Light: Danish Painting in the Nineteenth Century (London: Thames & Hudson, 2007), pp. 88-89, fig. 60.

Mattusch, Carol C., et al., eds. Pompeii and the Roman Villa: Art and Culture around the Bay of Naples, exh. cat. (Washington, D.C.: National Gallery of Art, with Thames & Hudson, 2008), pp. xviii, 301-3, no. 150, ill.

Gardner Coates, Victoria C., Kenneth Lapatin, and Jon L. Sydl, eds. The Last Days of Pompeii: Decadence, Apocalypse, Resurrection, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2012), pp. 24, 204-5, no. 71, ill., entry by Kenneth Lapatin.

Fredericksen, Burton B. The Burdens of Wealth: Paul Getty and His Museum (Bloomington: Archway Publishing, 2015), p. 275.