Vulcan Building a Fence Around the Mount of Venus
Although the northern Italian origin of this drawing has never been disputed, the question of its authorship remains open. The composition and the rendering of landscape are reminiscent of Giovanni Bellini and Andrea Mantegna, while the figures of Venus and Cupid recall Bartolomeo Vivarini. At the top of a hill, Venus sits surrounded by four attendants and embraces her son, Cupid. Below her, Vulcan builds a fence; his blacksmith tools occupy the entrance to his cave. The esoteric subject of this allegory of marital love may imply the influence of literary sources and relate to an epithalamium, a type of ancient wedding poem revived by Humanist scholars in the fifteenth century. This large sheet may have been a design for a painted scene, perhaps commissioned on the occasion of a marriage.
Circle of Giovanni Bellini (Italian, Venice, active by 1459–died 1516 Venice) ca. 1430–1516