“The Forge of the Volcano”, Diego Velazquez – overview of the painting

“The Forge of the Volcano”, Diego Velazquez – overview of the painting
"The Forge of the Volcano", Diego Velazquez - overview of the painting - 1

  • Posted by Diego Velazquez
  • Museum: Prado Museum
  • Year: 1629-1630

Overview of the painting :

Vulcan’s forge is Diego Velazquez. 1629-1630. Oil on canvas. 223 x 290 cm

   The picture exploits a fashionable tendency for writing paintings – the mythology of Ancient Rome, but the plot for it is chosen extraordinary and extremely rarely used in painting. More often, the motive of Vulcan revenge was applied to the unfaithful wife of Venus, and here the moment is depicted when Apollo descends into the forge of the Volcano and brings him unpleasant news about his wife’s infidelity.

   Why is the Vulcan forge used in this canvas on a mythological topic? Because the ancient Roman god Vulcan was the master of fire and the patron of blacksmithing. It was the Volcano who forged armor for all the gods of the Roman pantheon, but he also created the lightning of Jupiter. Wolcan’s wife was on the goddess Venus, the patroness of love.

   The picture captures six half-naked men – five in the foreground, and one in the background. The main characters are the Volcano itself, which does not stand out next to its apprentices, and Apollo in a luxurious golden toga, with a laurel wreath on his head surrounded by radiance. Although Vulcan is also a god, he is portrayed as a simple hard worker, of all the clothes on him, as well as on his workers, only a simple loincloth made of dark rough fabric.

   Apollo is diligently highlighted in color and light. His skin is the whitest of all surrounding men, moreover, it seems to be additionally lit from behind and above, and the head of God is surrounded by bright shining rays. The solar god in the twilight and gray forge of the Volcano looks inappropriate and alien – he does not belong here.

   The total color scheme of the picture is muffled, in olive, brown and grayish tones. Only some color spots are highlighted – the noble golden silk fabric on Apollo and the bright reddish tone of hot metal on the Volcano anvil.

   As usual, at Velazquez all the characters look like living, real people.