- Reference number
- Velázquez, Diego Rodríguez de Silva y (Spanish)
- Vulcan's Forge
- Ca. 1630
- 223 cm x 290 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (Palacio del Buen Retiro, Madrid, 1634; Buen Retiro, 1701, s. n.; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, paso de tribuna y trascuartos, 1772, nº 570; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, pieza de vestir, 1794, nº 570; Palacio Real, Madrid, [1ª] pieza de vestir, 1814-1818, nº 570).
Wearing a laurel crown and orange tunic, the god Apollo enters Vulcan's forge to warn him that his wife, Venus, goddess of beauty, is having an adulterous affair with Mars, god of war.
Apollo, god of poetry and music and knower of the truth, represents the superiority of Art over Craft, which is embodied by Vulcan, the Roman god of fire and protector of blacksmiths. This work was totally conceived by Velázquez and wasn't commissioned by anyone. It constitutes praise of artists by raising painting to the level of poetry and music and distancing it from the work of craftsmen.
This work was made in Rome during Velázquez's first visit to Italy. It is outstanding for its references to Greco-Roman statuary —in the treatment of the nudes— and to the Italian classicist Baroque. The composition is a broadly modified interpretation of an engraving by Antonio Tempesta.
This canvas was acquired by Felipe IV in 1634 and is listed in the 1701 inventory of the Buen Retiro Palace, and in the 1772 and 1794 inventories of Madrid's Royal Palace. It entered the Prado Museum in 1819.