Completed sometime around 1817, The Forge is a large, oil on canvas painting, measuring a fraction over 71 by 49 inches,
The painting focuses entirely on three men at work around a blacksmith's anvil. The character on the left of the painting is crouching behind the anvil, facing forward, and is using a tongs to hold a heated metal object steady on the anvil.
In the center of the painting, with his back to the viewer, is the blacksmith, holding aloft a sledgehammer. The third figure is a man, clearly older than the other two, bent double over the anvil. This figure is only partially visible, and it is unclear what he is doing.
The walls and flooring of the forge are depicted in shades of dark grays and blues and are devoid of any features. The blacksmith wears a light-colored shirt with rolled up sleeves, and gray leggings. The left legging has dropped around the forger's ankle, revealing his calf.
The man with the tongs is dressed completely in black. His shirt has short sleeves and his shoulders are also exposed. The third man is fully clothed. The visible flesh and the blacksmith's shirt provide the only light coloring in the scene. There is a small splash of vivid red representing the hot metal.