When I was in grad school, I wrote my master's thesis on Hester Lynch Piozzi, a salon hostess and grand tourist of the 18th-century English gentry. Specifically, I looked at the section of her travel journal that covered her time in Naples, Italy. While doing research for the project, I discovered something really interesting about the wealthy female tourists of the late 18th and early 19th century who visited southern Italy: some of them comissioned paintings of themselves with active volcanoes in the background. Others wrote about approaching the natural phenomena in fiction and their travel diaries. One of the chapters in my thesis concentrated on this topic. If I had continued my studies, I probably would have researched it further and written at least an article about it. Instead, I left my Phd program after getting another MA and here I am several years later drawing my own version:)
Below is an example, although you can't really see the exploding volcano very well in this small image. (Its easier to see it in the link...just click on the image or credit link.) This is Carl Christian Vogel von Vogelstein's portrait of Junge Dame mit Zeichengerat from 1816.
I came up with my own theories when I wrote the chapter, but I won't get into that here. No matter what the reasons were, this is really interesting, isn't it?