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Elihu Vedder
Volterra
1860
oil
12 1/4 x 25 1/2 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum



This extraordinary rock formation is located in Volterra in Italy, site of an ancient Etruscan town. The white limestone cliffs are famous as a source of alabaster, a soft translucent mineral used for carving sculpture and decorative objects. In recalling his visits to the site, Elihu Vedder wrote, “On one side of town there is a great ravine, and the hillside has been crumbling away for centuries, they think there is a subterranean river under it.”