Venus and Cupid in Vulcan´s Forge

Maerten van Heemskerck

Maerten van Heemskerck - Venus and Cupid in Vulcan´s Forge
The painter brings us to the mysterious environment of Vulcan´s forge, as it was described by Vergil in his famous Aeneid. The inconstant goddess of love, Venus, insists that her husband should make an armour for her illegitimate son Aenaeus. The lame god Vulcan, who according to Vergil was capable of taming fire and was unparallelled in forging, could not refuse his beautiful wife´s request and set to work immediately. He invited capable assistants to help him - the Cyclop giants. Those, as described by Homer, as well, had just one eye in the middle of their forehead. In Heemskerck´s treatment, however, they are muscular, well-built males with two eyes. This is no ignorance or disregard for antiquity - the painter did it to support the overall tone of the work, in which one-eyed giants would strike as too disturbing. Heemskerck sought inspiration for both their figures and Vulcan´s face in ancient monuments, which he got acquainted with during his five-year sojourn in Rome.
date:
measurements: height 166,5 cm
width 207 cm
material: canvas
technique: oil
inscription:
inventory number: DO 4290
gallery collection: Collection of Old Masters
licence: Creative Commons License public domain