Enea Vico (Italian, 1523–1567), after Parmigianino (Girolamo Francesco Maria Mazzola) (Italian, 1503–1540)
Engraving; first state, partially trimmed on sides
sheet 9 1/16 x 12 7/8 in. (23 x 32.7 cm)
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1949 (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 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 a subsequent embrace. This print seems to depict Vulcan crafting the invisible links, while Venus and Mars carry on, oblivious to his presence.