Log in

Hans Rottenhammer (Germany 1564‑1625)

Venus and Mars

To be sold at Uppsala Auktionskammare’s Important Sale Week 13 – 16 June 2023

Lot 556 Hans Rottenhammer (Germany 1564‑1625). Venus and Mars. Signed and dated with monogram lower right HR H 1613. Oil on copper, 43 x 56.5 cm.

The present lot is accompanied by an endorsement by Dr Luuk Pijl, dated 22 May 2023, reference no. 439, as well as a certificate from The Art Loss Register, ref: S00233378.


600.000 – 800.000 SEK
€ 53.000 – 70.000


A Swedish private collection.

In context

This superb painting, on a beautiful medium cabinet size sheet of copper, is a hitherto unknown work by the artist, dating from the later years of the artist’s career in Augsburg. Hidden in a Swedish private collection for at least three generations, its recent discovery is of importance as the painting is a welcome addition to the oeuvre, as compiled by H. Schlichtenmaier, Studien zum Werk Hans Rottenhammer d.A, unpublished dissertation, 1988, the more so as the number of these later paintings is only small.

The subject is taken from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, IV: 169/90, where it is related to how Vulcan, after having discovered the adultery of his wife Venus with Mars, trapped the couple in a fine iron net attached to the bed and exposed them to the mockery of the gathering of the Gods. In the present painting the focus is on the two lovers while preparing for their encounter without Vulcan, whereas in the three other known interpretations of the subject from 1604/5: signed and dated 1604, oil on copper, 29 x 38 cm, Rijksmuseum, inv. no. A 343; brush and brown ink heightened with white on paper, circa 1605 or later, 27.8 x 35.5 cm, Kupferstichkabinett, Berlin; and signed and dated 1605, oil on copper, Alte Pinakothek, Munich (H. Borggrefe, et.al. Hans Rottenhammer: begehrt, vergessen, neu entdeckt, 2008, pp. 164/ 167, cat. nos. 69, 70 and 71, with ills.). Vulcan is seen forging the net beyond. The subject therefore appears here to be less literally on the story but more on the meaning of the act of seduction of Mars by which Venus as the Goddess of Love establishes enduring peace. In a time of ongoing war this seems appropriate.

The present painting’s composition and style follows the earlier paintings in its dependence on venetian prototypes, such as Jacopo Tintoretto’s Mars, Venus and Vulcan, now in the Alte Pinakothek, Munich and Paolo Veronese Venus and Amor now in Turin. Rottenhammer probably knew these paintings from firsthand inspection. After all he lived in Venice from 1591 to 1606 with an interval of a year from 1594/5 when he was in Rome. As recalled by van Mander, while in Rome he was introduced to the new copper supports, such as were also used by Federico Zuccaro, Jan Brueghel I and Bartholemeus Spranger. Back in Germany Rottenhammer made paintings on copper into his specialty.

Dated 1613, the present Mars and Venus was executed when Rottenhammer was back in Augsburg. There he is recorded to have worked for Count Ernst von Holstein-Schaumburg on fresco decorations in Schloss Bückeburg and for Duke Maximilian of Bavaria. No doubt the present painting too must have been intended for a prestigious art collector.

We are grateful to Dr Luuk Pijl who enthusiastically confirmed the attribution to Hans Rottenhammer on the basis of a high resolution digital photo. 

Back to catalogue »


Sofie Bexhed

Head of Sales

Phone: +46 (0)705-22 61 62

Amanda Rass

Junior Specialist

Art Department
Phone: +46 (0)720-70 22 61