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THIS agreeable subject has been treated by a great number of artists with peculiar effect. It offers a thousand opportunities for a painter to display the resources of his art, either by the nature of the composition, the gracefulness of the costumes, the opposition of the characters, or the freshness or vigour of the carnations. The dusky colouring of Vulcan, his austere look, and his ferocious air, contrast with the elegant forms, the tender smile of Venus, and the naïvete of the beautiful children by whom she is accompanied. One of them presents a basket of flowers to the goddess; another shews her a butterfly; a third appears to repose himself on his bow; while the most prominent of this infantine group, approaching his mother, puts into his quiver the arrows she has taken from the recepticle brought to her by Vulcan.
This valuable picture, executed with all the care which Julio Romano was able to employ on a work so little extensive, owes its principal merit to the simplicity of the composition, the dignity of the characters, and the purity. of design; qualities which secure to this artist the first rank among the disciples of Raphael; but he is not remarkable either for delicacy of pencil, or truth of colouring. It is well known that Julio Romano has often illassorted the glowing tints, that his shades are dark, and that his touch is not always happy. It is only in his grand compositions, and particularly in his persons, that
we can justly appreciate the talent of this distinguished
Vulcan, the son of Juno, was born with a disgusting figure. His mother, ashamed of having given him being, precipitated him (says Homer) to the bottom of the ocean, that he might remain eternally concealed in the abyss. Thetis and Eurynome had compassion on him, and preserved his existence. He remained for some years in a profound cave, occupied in making bracelets for their arms, and ornaments for their hair. At last he was summoned to heaven, and became the husband of Venus. He built himself, in Olympus, a temple of brass, decorated with brilliant stars. It was there that this god, whose size was prodigious, covered with filth and perspiration, by ashes and smoke, blowing incessantly the bellows of his forge, carried into effect those ingenious ideas with which he was inspired.
These pictures are altogether allegorical. Vulcan, who perhaps was really lame, is the original author of works in iron, tin, silver, and gold. He discovered and taught the art of rendering these substances fusible for general use. This prince, it is said, having been disgraced, returned to the island of Lemnos, where he erected his forge. This particular explains the fable of Vulcan being cast from heaven upon earth. Poets have placed the usual dwelling of this god in Vulcania, one of the Eolian Islands, surrounded with rocks, whose summits vomit clouds of fire and smoke. It is to this day called volcano, a name that is applicable to all mountains by which fire is emitted.