Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan

Object Details

Title:

Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan

Artist/Maker:

Joachim Anthonisz. Wtewael (Dutch, 1566 - 1638)

Culture:

Dutch

Date:

1604–1608

Medium:

Oil on copper

Object Number:

83.PC.274

Dimensions:

20.3 × 15.5 cm (8 × 6 1/8 in.)

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In the Metamorphoses, the Roman author Ovid tells the story of how the lovers Venus and Mars were surprised by Venus's husband, Vulcan. Vulcan, a blacksmith, forged an invisible bronze net, which he secretly attached to Mars's bed. Here Vulcan stands upon Mars's armor, discarded at the right, while Cupid and Apollo hover above, drawing back the green canopy to reveal the astonished lovers in an embrace. Other gods and goddesses also gather to witness and mock the adulterous couple. In a scene beyond the bed, Vulcan hammers his net at the forge.

Exaggerated poses and brilliant, jewel-like color emphasize the dramatic intensity of the scene. The hard, metallic surface of the copper lends itself to highly finished and detailed pictures. Because of the erotic subject matter, the painting's early owners may have concealed the painting behind a curtain or in a drawer, which preserved its lustrous appearance.

Provenance
-

Jan van Weely (Middleburg, The Netherlands)

-

or Melchior Wijntgis (Middleburg, The Netherlands)

by 1807 - 1924

Count Stroganoff (St. Petersburg, Russia) [sold, Stroganoff sale, Lair-Dubreuil, Brodu, Paris, May 22, 1924, lot 1.]

- 1926

Ehrich Galleries (New York, New York), sold to Jules Semon Bache, 1926.

1926 - 1944

Jules Semon Bache, 1861 - 1944 (New York, New York), upon his death, held in trust by the estate, 1944.

1944 - 1945

Estate of Jules Semon Bache, 1861 - 1944 [sold, Bache sale, Kende Galleries, New York, April 23, 1945, lot 4.]

1945 - about 1945

Gumuchian and Co. (New York, New York)

about 1945 - about 1945

Raphael Esmerian, 1903 - 1976 (New York, New York)

about 1945 - 1975

Private Collection (New York, New York)

-

Private Collection (Lebanon)

- 1983

Private Collection [sold, Sotheby's, London, July 6, 1983, lot 69, through Hoogsteder-Naumann, Ltd. (New York, New York) to the J. Paul Getty Museum.]

Exhibitions
Joachim Wtewael (February 21, 2015 to January 31, 2016)
  • Centraal Museum (Utrecht), February 21 to May 25, 2015
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), June 28 to October 4, 2015
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, November 1, 2015 to January 31, 2016
Art of Alchemy (October 11, 2016 to February 12, 2017)
  • The Getty Research Institute (Los Angeles), October 11, 2016 to February 12, 2017
Bibliography

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