This painting by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo illustrates the episode in Virgil's Aeneid in which the goddess Venus visits her estranged husband, Vulcan, at his forge on the island of Lemnos. Reclining haughtily on a cloud, she persuades him to make weapons for her son, Aeneas, and, still moved by his desire for her, Vulcan cannot refuse. Traditionally, the painting has been identified as a sketch for part of the ceiling decoration of the guard room in the Palacio Real, Madrid, where such a pseudomartial theme would have been elegantly appropriate. More recently, however, scholars have identified it as the pendant to a painting of Apollo and Daphne, now in the National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C. Likely painted as overdoors, both paintings turn on themes of seduction and desire among the deities of classical mythology. Christopher Riopelle, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 182.
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