In 1759, he studied at the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna, with Martin van Meytens. He was originally a history painter, but was not very successful. In 1770, he became a member of the Academy and went to Italy on its behalf. Once there, he turned to landscape painting, which proved to be his true forté.
He is best known for the paintings he produced during a stay in Naples. Mount Vesuvius was especially active at that time, and he took the opportunity to capture close-up scenes of the eruptions and lava flows. Accompanied by the English diplomat and volcanologist, Sir William Hamilton, he even made risky trips close to the volcano's crater. Until the advent of photography, his paintings were considered to be the most scientifically accurate representations of a volcanic eruption.
He later spent some time painting the ruins in Rome, then returned to Vienna, where he became a Professor at the Academy. He revisited Italy for a short time in 1805, to collect new material. His stepbrother, Franz Neumann (1744-1816), the Director of the "Royal Coin and Antiquities Gallery", left him 40,000 Florins, but he continued to earn his living by painting. Many years earlier, Lord Bristol had offered to buy two of his Italian landscapes for 1,200 Ducats apiece, but died before the sale was completed.
Paintings of VesuviusEdit
View from the Gulf of Naples
- Brief biography from the Biographisches Lexikon des Kaiserthums Oesterreich @ German Wikisource.
- Hermann Arthur Lier (1898), "Wuttky, Michael", Allgemeine Deutsche Biographie (ADB) (in German), 44, Leipzig: Duncker & Humblot, p. 379