Lisbon Earthquake, 1755

Lisbon earthquake, 1755

This lithograph, Destruction de Lisbon, is one of many visual representations of the great earthquake that--in conjunction with the fire and tsunami that it caused--killed as many as 40,000 people and destroyed the Portuguese capital on 1 November 1755.

Often called the “first modern disaster,” the great Lisbon earthquake gave rise to vigorous investigations of its causes, with empirical observations and scientific knowledge informing the ambitious rebuilding of the ruined city. The horrific and widely publicized disaster also led to the first international relief effort in world history. More than any previous disaster, the Lisbon earthquake also became the subject of sermons, songs, poems, visual representations, and eyewitness accounts that circulated throughout Europe and its colonies in America.

Lisbon Earthquake, 1755