An honest woodman who had lost his axe was rewarded by Mercury with a golden one when he denied that his own had been of precious metal. A dishonest woodman thereupon claimed that he had lost a golden axe; Mercury recovered it and showed it was merely of iron (Aesop's 'Fables').

This picture cannot be dated securely but is a mature work.

Key facts

Artist dates
1615 - 1673
Full title
Landscape with Mercury and the Dishonest Woodman
Date made
after 1649
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
125.7 x 202.1 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1837
Inventory number
Location in Gallery