Piero di Cosimo: Vulcan and Aeolus and The Finding of Vulcan on the Island of Lemnos Reunited Exhibition on view from 15 September 2000 to 10 December 2000
Ottawa, Canada - September 11, 2000
« Vulcan et Éole et La chute de Vulcan dans l'île de Lemnos de Piero di Cosimo enfin réunis exposition à l'affiche du 15 septembre au 10 décembre 2000 »
Two of the greatest Florentine Renaissance paintings in North America are Piero di Cosimo's Vulcan and Aeolus, from the collection of the National Gallery of Canada and Finding of Vulcan on Lemnos, from the collection of the Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Conneticut. These two paintings were last together in Florence in 1861. Piero di Cosimo: Vulcan and Aeolus and The Finding of Vulcan on the Island of Lemnos Reunited, features these two works, together with a didactic presentation from the National Gallery of Canada's Conservation and Restoration Laboratory. The exhibition is on view in room C218 from 15 September 2000 to 10 December 2000. Admission is free.
Piero di Cosimo's Vulcan and Aeolus, c. 1485/90, displays the human figure in a variety of poses, set in a landscape in which animals, birds, and insects are all present and in harmony. The painting is thought to represent the dawn of civilization, depicting the discovery and utilization of fire and the domestication of animals. Vulcan, the Roman god of fire, is shown at the anvil, hammer raised, forging a horseshoe. Aeolus, the master of the winds, sits on the other side of the fire, holding his twin bellows. This large canvas, commissioned by Francesco del Pugliese, a rich Florentine merchant who some suggest is represented in the figure of Vulcan, was purchased by the National Gallery of Canada in 1937.
The Hartford painting illustrates Vulcan's violent expulsion from Mount Olympus. According to Homer's Iliad, Vulcan (or Hephaestus in Greek mythology) was the son of Hera, queen of the gods, and her brother and husband Zeus. When Zeus and Hera were in conflict, after Hera intervened during the Trojan War, Vulcan defended his mother and came to her rescue. Zeus became enraged and pushed him off the mountain. Vulcan fell, eventually landing upon the island of Lemnos and becoming crippled as a result of the fall. "Zeus flipped me by my foot off our balcony. I fell all day and came down when the sun did," Homer portrays Hephaestus telling his story. "On the island of Lemnos, scarcely alive. The Sintians had to nurse me back to health." In Finding of Vulcan on Lemnos, Piero depicts the Sintian people as nymphs and portrays Vulcan in a markedly awkward pose after his descent.
Meet the Curator
Thursday 26 October at 6:30 pm Piero di Cosimo by David Franklin, Curator of Prints and Drawings. In the Lecture Hall. Adults: $5; Seniors and Students: $4; Friends of the NGC: $3; free for visitors under 18. Reservations: (613) 998-8888.
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