Batoni shows the blacksmith god Vulcan at work. The subject evokes a scene in Virgil’s Aeneid, when Venus – Vulcan’s wife – asks him to forge magic weapons for her son Aeneas, ancestor of the Romans. The composition appears to be based on study of a living model. The god’s twisted pose is indebted to Antique sculpture – a vital model for artists – and allows Batoni to demonstrate his understanding of anatomy. References to Antiquity and to the “grand” subject matter of ancient myth elevate and enrich the work.