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  • Venus at the Forge of Vulcan (Allegory of the Fire)

    Artist:
    Kessel, Jan van I. 1626-1679
    Technique:
    oil
    Dimensions:
    59,5x84 cm

Kessel, Jan van I. 1626-1679

Venus at the Forge of Vulcan (Allegory of the Fire)

Flanders, 1662

In The Aeneid (VIII: 370-386) Virgil relates how Venus visited the forge of her husband Vulcan to request that he make arms for her son Aenaes, who is setting out in combat against the Rutuli. This mythological subject is presented by the artist as the allegory of Fire. Van Kessel depicts the various states of this element - a fire-breathing mountain in the background, a blacksmith?s furnace and a pair of spotted salamanders on the ground next to Vulcan. According to the medieval bestiary, salamanders were symbols of fire, were not consumed by fire and even possessed the ability to extinguish a flame. The most important part of the space in the composition has been allotted by the artist to the depiction of the equipment being prepared in the forge: armour (helmet, plastron, gauntlets, dress shield), arms (lances, rapiers, pistols, muskets and cannon) and military musical instruments (drums, horn and kettle-drums). The painting also depicts a large flag and a saddle and a harness for a horse). A more remote symbolic meaning can be found in the objects of daily use made with the help of fire: silver, glass and ceramic vessels which are assembled together in the silver wine chiller. The theme is rounded out by a still life in the style of vanitas (the vanity of vanities) on the table in the right part of the painting. The emptiness and vanity of earthly passions is embodied in the open mechanical clock, in the lit candle and pipe with tobacco, while the salt-cellar, goblet and glass of wine embody the mystery of the Eucharist. The composition of the painting has been taken from Jan Brueghel the Elder?s Allegory of Fire (Galeria Doria Pamphili, Rome), while the depiction of the military outfit and instruments was borrowed from the ?guardrooms? of David Teniers the Younger.

School:

Title:

Venus at the Forge of Vulcan (Allegory of the Fire)

Place:

Date:

Material:

Technique:

oil

Dimensions:

59,5x84 cm

Inventory Number:

ГЭ-1709

Category:

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