Venus at the Forge of Vulcan
workshop of Jan Brueghel the Elder (Flemish, 1568-1625)
oil on oak panel
55.2 x 88.9 cm (21 3/4 x 35 in.)
The John Woodman Higgins Collection
This painting depicts the passage in Virgil’s Aeneid, where Venus, accompanied by Cupid, appeals to her husband Vulcan to make armor for her son Aeneas. The painting also praises the Renaissance metalworker, whose wide range of products are represented, from jewelry to arms and armor. The tools are those used by armorers, including hammers, anvils and large shears for cutting metal plate. At the right, assistants operate tilt-hammers, and behind them, “millmen” polish with grinding and buffing wheels.