I Jan van Kessel

Venus at the Forge of Vulcan

Venus at the Forge of Vulcan
(click image to zoom-in)
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.

Personage: Venus
Source of entry: unknown, Before 1797
Theme: Religion and Mythology of Antiquity

Site map

Albums Authors Countries Sources Epoches Exibitions Genres
Personages Schools Styles Techniques Themes Types Workshops

Image Use Policy

Unless otherwise noted, images this web site may be used for any purpose without prior permission.

Any material in the public domain found on this web site is not protected by copyright.

We make no representations or warranties with respect to ownership of copyrights in the images, and do not represent others who may claim to be authors or owners of copyright of any of the images, and make no warranties as to the quality of the images.

We shall not be responsible for any loss or expenses resulting from the use of the images, and you release and hold us harmless from all liability arising from such use.

We do not sell art prints, framed posters or reproductions. Ads are shown only to compensate the hosting expenses.