(b. 1526, Milano, d. 1593, Milano)


Oil on wood, 67 x 51 cm
Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna

The painting is one of the series representing the Four Elements. From the series, Fire and Water are in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Earth is now in a Viennese private collection. Air has been lost and only exists in copies.

The allegory of Fire combines objects that are more or less directly related to fire in a bizarre profile head. The cheek is formed by a large firestone, the neck and chin are formed by a burning candle and an oil lamp, the nose and ear are contoured by firesteels; a blond moustache is formed by a crossed bundle of wood shavings for kindling, the eye is an extinguished candle stub, the forehead area is a wound-up fuse, the hair of the head forms a crown of blazing logs. The breast is composed of fire weapons: mortar and canon barrels together with the respective gunpowder shovel and a pistol barrel.

Prominently positioned in the picture is the collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece, beneath which the imperial double-eagle can be seen: a clear reference to the Habsburg House and the beneficiary of the series, Emperor Maximilian II.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.