Venus and Mars Embracing as Vulcan Works at His Forge

Artist: Enea Vico (Italian, Parma 1523–1567 Ferrara)

Artist: After Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola) (Italian, Parma 1503–1540 Casalmaggiore)

Published in: Rome

Date: 1543

Medium: Engraving

Dimensions: Sheet: 9 1/16 x 12 7/8 in. (23 x 32.7 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949

Accession Number: 49.97.351


The beautiful Venus was oddly matched to the lame blacksmith Vulcan (the Greek Hephaistos), a virtuosic metalworker who forged Cupid's potent arrows as well as the elaborate armor of the gods and heroes. When the smith learned of his wife's long-running love affair with Mars (the Greek Ares), he retaliated by fashioning a net of iron so fine that it could not be seen and laying it over a bed to trap the lovers in an embrace. This print seems to depict Vulcan crafting the invisible links, while Venus and Mars continue, oblivious to his presence.