CLERCK, Hendrik de
(b. ca. 1570, Brussel, d. 1630, Brussel)
Mars and Venus Surprised by Vulcan, Cupid and Apollo1600
Oil on panel, 47 x 35 cm
Museum of Fine Arts, St. Petersburg, Florida
The mythological story of Venus and Mars surprised by Venus's husband Vulcan is a tale of passion and revenge. The beauty of Venus was irresistible: Ovid wrote in The Art of Love: "Mars, stirred by mad desire for Venus, was turned from grim warrior to lover." Venus's son Cupid hovers above the couple and points his arrow at their hearts. Discovering their affair, Vulcan, god of fire and the forge, sets a trap for them, and asks the other gods to judge them.