The iconography of the present lot represents one of the most popular themes from antiquity - the concept of love overcoming strife. Here Cupid is depicted symbolically seated on Mars' shield and cuirass, who has just been disarmed, while Venus was almost certainly originally depicted wounding herself with one of Cupid's arrows. Conceptually, the group has its roots in 17th century Italian baroque sculpture, especially when taking into account the expressiveness of the figures and the complex spiral form of the composition. Stylistically, however, the group seems to have its roots in Flanders, and bears relation to the works of Nicolas van der Veken (1637-1709). The most apparent similarities are in the highly tense facial expressions that show a twisted brow, down-turned eyes and open mouth. These features can all be seen, for instance, in his Maria Agyptiaca and Mary Magdalene in the St. Antoniuskapelle, Mechlen both dated to circa 1700 (see Philppot, Coekelberghs, Loze and Vautier, locs. cit.). Another figure that has been connected to van der Veken is an intimately scaled boxwood group of the Virgin and Child, which was sold anonymously in Christie's, London, 6 December 1988, lot 68. Both groups demonstrate the same interest in the intense facial expressions of the principal figure, but also in the rendition of the child's face and anatomy.
While the present lot has some stylistic similarities to van der Veken's works, the majority of the latter's oeuvre is religious in subject matter. It is his master Lucas Faydherbe (1617-1697), however, who seems to have worked on a small-scale - often in ivory - to produce expressive and dynamic mythological subjects.