Landscape with Mercury and the Dishonest Woodman

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 it is one of Rosa’s mature works. Recent scholarship has suggested that the painting was bought (and possibly commissioned) by Don Lorenzo Onofrio Colonna, who corresponded with Rosa during the first half of the 1660s.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1615 - 1673
Full title
Landscape with Mercury and the Dishonest Woodman
Date made
about 1663
Medium and support
Oil on canvas
Dimensions
125.7 x 202.1 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1837
Inventory number
NG84
Location in Gallery