The majority of this artist's paintings were inspired by Christian scripture but he did occasionally make use of mythological themes instead. In this example we find a romantic clash which is played out right in front of us. Mars and Venus had a turbulent relationship that has been used throughout the Renaissance period, see Botticelli for example, and the Venetian Mannerists continued this. Vulcan, the smith of the gods, arrives by surprise and forces Mars to hide under a table in order to try to avoid being discovered in the presence of his wife.
If we look at the composition itself, there is not quite the dramatic lighting that we normally associate with this artist, but it is still an intriguing piece. We can just about make out the head of Mars, whilst Venus spreads out on an elaborately carved bed and her husband leans over besides her. Cupid, the representative of love is seen at the back of the painting sleeping, or perhaps pretending too to avoid any of the impending conflict. There is also a small dog in the foreground, besides Venus' right foot.
The original artwork is now owned by, and displayed at, the Alte Pinakothek in Munich. This gallery in amongst the finest and more significant within Germany and hosts a fine selection of art from across Germany as well as the rest of Europe and beyond. Tintoretto himelf was inspired by German woodcuts from the likes of Durer and Cranach and so it is appropriate that some of his own paintings would appear today in that country. They actually own another artwork from the Italian painter, called Christ in the House of Mary and Martha, as well as some related artworks from the likes of Fra Filippo Lippi, Paolo Veronese, Domenico Ghirlandaio, Fra Angelico and Giotto.