Baron Jean-Baptiste Louis Gros (1793–1870), France
The Volcanoes, ca. 1833–34
Oil on paper
Colección Patricia Phelps de Cisneros
The Valley of Mexico, a highland plateau in central Mexico, is renowned for its geological splendor and historical interest. Its nearby snowcapped peaks, volcanoes Popocatépetl and Iztaccihuatl, are named for lovers who, according to Aztec myth, died with their love unrequited.
Gros documented his travels through Mexico during the four years he spent there as a French diplomat. He painted The Volcanoes—probably in situ—around the time he climbed Popocatépetl with fellow European travelers. His written notes name each volcano’s altitude and sulfuric level, displaying his scientific interest in the site.