Piero di Cosimo

Vulcan and Aeolus

c. 1490
The subject is unclear, but is thought to represent the dawn of civilization, marked by the discovery of fire. Vulcan, god of fire, works at the anvil, while Aeolus, master of the Winds, pumps the bellows. The prominent white horse and rider represent the animal’s domestication, while behind we see men build a primitive house from rough tree trunks. At this time, humans and animals live in harmony. Piero reveals his mastery of the human form, showing figures in a range of complex poses – a particular concern for artists and clients at this time. Painted to decorate a domestic setting, this is a rare surviving example of its type. Frame: carved wood, painted and partly gilded. Italy, late 16th – early 17th century
Title
Vulcan and Aeolus
Date
c. 1490
Medium
Painting
Materials
oil and egg tempera on canvas
Dimensions
155.5 x 166.5 cm
Nationality
Italian
Credit line
Purchased 1937
Accession number
4287