If you're seeing this message, it means we're having trouble loading external resources on our website.

If you're behind a web filter, please make sure that the domains *.kastatic.org and *.kasandbox.org are unblocked.

Main content
Current time:0:00Total duration:3:23

Video transcript

we're in Madrid at the Prado and we're looking at Falasca is a large painting this is the Vulcan Forge it's been described as some art historians as a kind of burlesque actually the years Apollo who we can see the God of the Sun and the God of poetry with the halo on his head on the left who's here telling Welkin who is forging a suit of armor and is very hard at work all day and Apollo has just come to tell him that his wife Venus has been having an affair with Mars the God of War no look just look at the attitudes of those two faces so they forget about the rest of the painting for just a moment Apollo his back arches his head is up he's were rather full of himself actually you know as he has this very powerful message to sort of almost scold volcán with and Vulcan looks horrified and dangerous he's holding this one red-hot metal in one hand he's got a hammer in the other and it looks like he's ready to just strike anything and look at his body he's got this beautiful torso muscles and these ripples and his abdomen but his face has like that kind of Caravaggio feel ups he's not ideal is beautiful I mean he's got this ideally beautiful body in fact all of the male figures have ideal bodies as though Velasquez was looking at ancient Greek and Roman sculpture and looking at the artists of the Renaissance maybe Michelangelo and also looking at the art of Caravaggio but the hands are different aren't they I'm not so idealized as he pointed out in fact the heads are incredibly naturalistic even though they're painted in a fairly loose manner so there's this conflict in this painting between this kind of realism and down-to-earth Ness and the figures and what they're doing and their gestures and the emotions that they convey but also this sense that kind of standing my classical sculptures and their bodies look like classical but here's the thing is that I don't think the French or the Italians would have rendered an important mythological subject with this much almost sort of comedy involved right look at the man who is second from the right he looks a sort of astonished I mean it's really absurd so there's this kind of sort of direct human sort of sense of conflict and humor it seems very debasing in some way really not treating the classical with the kind of honor that it's usually accorded at the same time though it looks like an academic exercise because we have the three male figures in the center threat shown from three different points of view the one on the Left Vulcan shown frontal the next one shown from behind the third one shown in profile the last figure on the right showing foreshortened and coming out towards those first three almost like if they were female figures like the Three Graces exactly it looks very orderly and composed and balanced and a little bit like a performance for maybe possible future patrons I mean here's Velasquez he's still relatively young he's made a trip to Rome at the urging of Rubens and perhaps demonstrating his skill as an artist you can paint the male nude it certainly shows an artist who's willing to sort of reinvent or push the boundaries the ways in which stories are told you