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Vulcan at his ForgeEnlarge image

Vulcan at his Forge, 1750

Pompeo Batoni
Italie, 1708 - 1787
oil on canvas
94.2 x 72.2 x 2.4 cm
Purchased 2012
National Gallery of Canada (no. 45405)
Photo © NGC

Batoni, whose oeuvre encapsulates the transition from Roman Classicism to Neoclassicism, portrays Vulcan, the blacksmith god, son of Jupiter and Juno. The half-length figure features a torso that is, to a large extent, derived from the artist's studies after ancient sculpture. The work obliquely addresses the theme of Venus asking Vulcan for weapons for Aeneas, an event described in Virgil's "Aeneid". Although this composition appears to be a life study, it is equally informed by history painting. By associating the "grand genre" with an academic exercise, the artist has elevated the status of the work.

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