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|Author: I Jan van Kessel|
|History Painting, Painting, Oil on canvas, 59.5x84 cm|
|Origin: Flanders, 1662|
In The Aeneid 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 , arms and military musical instruments . 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 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 , while the depiction of the military outfit and instruments was borrowed from the ?guardrooms? of David Teniers the Younger.
|Source of entry: unknown, Before 1797|
|Theme: Religion and Mythology of Antiquity|
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