Alexandre Charles Guillemot, Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan, 1827

Vulcan was the Roman god of volcanoes, fire, and metalworking – he had a smithy under Mt Etna on the island of Sicily. He was married to Venus and whenever he caught her cheating on him, Mt Etna would erupt in anger.

Here Vulcan finds his wife in bed again with her lover Mars, the god of war. Venus covers her face to hide her shame, while Mars flashes us a cunning look. Vulcan looks annoyed, yet strangely, bored at the same time. Does his head resting on his fist indicate that he is tired of the same old same old? Or was Guillemot’s model simply too lazy to hold another pose?

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