Venus, Vulcan and Cupid by John Carew (c.1782-1868), with a close-up of the boar. Date span given by the National Trust: c.1827/28 - 1831, but date carved beside signature on base, 1827 [Detail]. Marble. 1860 x 1200 mm. North Gallery, Petworth House, Sussex. The blacksmith Vulcan is shown with one leg over his anvil, with the word Aitna (Etna) clearly inscribed on it in bold [Detail], his wife Venus hanging on his shoulder and son Cupid peeping mischievously up beside him. According to the National Trust, this was to be the "pendant for Carew's other colossal sculpture group, Prometheus and Pandora."

Looking at the various works by Carew in this part of the gallery, the reviewer in the Fine Arts section of the New Monthly magazine calls this group "a complete success" (209). It shows the heavy-set, heavy-browed Vulcan, still angered by Venus's infidelities, desisting from forging thunderbolts but not responding to his wife propitiation, and Cupid peeping up imploringly but with a hint of his usual mischievous expression. The contrast in attitude of the three figures pleased the reviewer, and he particularly liked the figure of Venus in this context, and the way she is putting her "delicate hand" on Vulcan's "brawny" shoulder — details which really need to be appreciated in a more spacious context (108-09).

Text and photographs by Jacqueline Banerjee, the latter reproduced here by kind permission of the National Trust (no. 486418). The distracting background of the photo on the right has been digitally removed. [Click on the images to enlarge them.]

Other works by Carew nearby


"Vulcan, Venus and Cupid." National Trust. Web. 20 July 2020.

"Fine Arts." The New Monthly. Vol. 27. 1 May 1829. Free Ebook. Google Books. Web. 20 July 2020.

Created 20 July 2020