By Manas Pal


I first heard of Tintoretto- painter of Renaissance (born 1518 in Venice) from Satyajit Ray’s thriller story Tintorettor Jishu (“Jesus painting by Tintoretto”- a film was later made by his son Sandip Ray). Later, as I looked into some of the Classical paintingS I found Tintoretto stands apart for reason which is indeed..well, should I say,.. ‘interesting’
Usually whenever we think of Classical paintings, especially of the Renaissance period we never consider them to be funny. We consider them to be extremely elegant, emphatic, exquisite and often elitist. But look at this painting carefully. This is, perhaps, one of the most funny paintings- despite all its other Classical qualities- of the Renaissance period.
This painting is known/ titled as Tintoretto's --Venus, Mars, and Vulcan.

Now, we know who Venus- also known as Aphrodite in Greek- is. We also know who is Mars, the Helmeted God of War, and a hero (from his name we got Martial).

Vulcan is Venus’ husband.

One of Vulcan’s legs was broken when his mother Juno found him ‘ugly’ and threw him into the sea. Later Vulcan grew as the Gods’ main blacksmith and artisan of great knowledge.. sort of our own Viswakarma. (His father was Jupiter)

And Venus, in our present moral standard, was not very dignified. Her immoral or in clear terms ‘extra marital” acts were vividly depicted in many paintings. One of her paramours was Mars who used to visit her, sleep with her and would vanish before her husband --the great angry hammer-man Vulcan arrived.

Here look at the painting closely. Vulcan arrived, he was suspecting his wife was having an affair with Mars. He was searching for Mars and even pulled up the bedcover (you may see the quilt). And where was Mars ?

Lo !! the great God of War was hiding under the table…infact trying to crawl out and escape. (Very unbecoming of a Hero and a warrior God)…. But the problem was the DOG… Vulcan’s Dog was barking at him and well, giving away Mar’s presence in an unheroic place. Look at the Cupid.. he seemed like enjoying the scene ( though as mischievous as he is..he kept his eyes closed..after all he was the character who played the key in extra marital love-affair)..This is an extremely comic scene ... but…common in all ages..
(You may see the other painting with humour by no other than Botticelli ( just Google image Venus+Mars+Botticelli) will see how Mars is sleeping after his affair with Venus ..and four baby satyrs fleeing with his spear )…

* Some points I would like to mention ….

* Venus was painted by many -----Titian, Natoire, Botticelli et al. Venus is identified with the presence of among others, Cupid (there were often two Cupids- angel babies- Eros and his brother Anteros) and three companions- Aglaia, Euphrosyne, and Thalia.

*Titian also painted Venus with dog and in painting he was depicted as the worst of watch dog... Dog was sleeping..In fact, somehwhere I had read that Tintoretto painted this pic to mock the Titian's sleeping dog only.. and also Vulcan was given beard as Titian also sported beard... Titian was Tintoretto's teacher also. I shall give the pic of the painting in my first comment box.

*Tintoretto's original name was Jacopo Comin..or Jacopo Rubusti... He was a very witty and a man of pleasnt personality but he was never seen smiling emoticon ..he was called Tintorertti because it means ....he was son of a dyer...Tintore... He was also a student of great Titian...

*From Vulcan’s name we got the name Volcano.
* To understand as to how much detailed and careful were the old masters, look at the left leg of vulcan , and youn immediately know he had a problem with the leg... also just look at the glass pot by the window..