Lot 60
  • 60

Luca Giordano, called Luca Fa Presto

200,000 - 300,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Luca Giordano, called Luca Fa Presto
  • Venus at Vulcan's Forge
  • signed on the rock lower center: .LG. (in ligature)
  • oil on canvas
  • 70 1/8  by 89 7/8  in.; 180 by 228.3 cm.


The following condition report has been provided by Simon Parkes of Simon Parkes Art Conservation, Inc. 502 East 74th St. New York, NY 212-734-3920, simonparkes@msn.com, an independent restorer who is not an employee of Sotheby's. The condition is generally good for a work of this scale and period. The lining is old and probably slightly porous. There are restorations in some of the darker pigments, particularly on the left side and in the figure in the lower left corner. Some of the restorations are visible to the naked eye in the right side of Vulcan and in the figure in the lower left. There are a few visible restorations in the face of Venus, and in a vertical line through her right shoulder. There is another line of restoration through the right shoulder of Vulcan. The work should be fully cleaned and properly varnished, at which point retouches could be accurately applied.
"This lot is offered for sale subject to Sotheby's Conditions of Business, which are available on request and printed in Sotheby's sale catalogues. The independent reports contained in this document are provided for prospective bidders' information only and without warranty by Sotheby's or the Seller."

Catalogue Note

The subject of this grand composition is taken from Virgil’s Aeneid.  The scene is set in the "underground cavern and galleries leading from [Mount] Etna" on the island of Sicily, the location of Vulcan's forge, as described in the Aeneid (8.370-453). Here, Vulcan-- the god of fire and metalworking—engages in discourse with his wife Venus as he and his workers create what will become arms that she will later give to her mortal son Aeneas. At Venus’ side is Cupid, who clings to her for protection amidst the fire and cacophony of sound.  Giordano envisaged this story on other occasions, though more often choosing to illustrate the story as told in Ovid’s Metamorphosis. In that telling Venus commits adultery with Mars, following which Vulcan discovers his wifes transgressions and ultimately catches her with a fine gold woven net. Both the present example and the more commonly depicted version of the story, see for example the canvas in the National Gallery of Ireland, are both treated with Giordano’s signature warm coloring and free, loose brushwork. As with the National Gallery canvas, this work can be dated to Giordano's early maturity, circa 1655-1660. By this point in his career, Giordano had moved away from emulating the heavily Neapolitan technique of his teacher Jusepe de Ribera, and begun to incorporate the lush coloring and rapid paint application made popular by Titian and, later, Peter Paul Rubens. 

We are grateful to Giuseppe Scavizzi for endorsing the attribution to Giordano, based on photographs.