ALBANI, Francesco
(b. 1578, Bologna, d. 1660, Bologna)

The Four Elements: Fire

Oil on canvas, diameter 180 cm
Galleria Sabauda, Turin

Although in Rome Albani worked for Guido Reni in the chapel of the Quirinal Palace, he remained in these years essentially devoted to Domenichino's type of classicism. Even before returning to Bologna, his special gift led him towards light-hearted and appealing representations of myth and allegory in landscape settings of the sort that is perhaps best exemplified by the Four Elements in Turin, painted in 1626-28.

In the allegory of Fire, Cupids in the foreground make arrows in the forge of Vulcan, who is reclining on the left. Venus rides across the sky in her chariot and distributes burning torches to cupids. Semele lies on the right, her heart already pierced with love's arrow, and her lover Jupiter hovers in the centre, clutching thunderbolts.