Thence by inheritance.
The painting depicts the ‘Walloon’ method of iron production, named after the region of modern-day Belgium. The two stage method involves first the production of pig iron in a blast furnace followed by refinement in a finery forge. Devised in the 15th century, the method had spread Europe-wide by the early 17th century and was key in the international arms race in the 15th century for the production of both stronger weapons and stronger armour. Here we see a furnace with a wide, flat opening, perhaps six metres high, made of hewn stone and accessed at the top by a staircase affixed to the side.
We are grateful to Prof. Alexander Wied for endorsing the attribution to Marten Ryckaert on the basis of digital photographs.
1. A. Wied, Lucas und Marten van Valckenborch, Freren 1990, p. 141, cat. no. 23, reproduced.
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