Venus gently comforts her son Cupid, who is startled by a lively little spaniel. This incidental detail enhances the immediate appeal of the mythological characters. The sensuous goddess of love, swathed in luxurious fabric, rests on Mars' knee. It is thought that the god of war may have been included late on in the design (possibly by an assistant) because only the figures of Venus and Cupid appear in related preparatory drawings (British Museum, London). The very sketchy treatment of Cupid's wings suggests that the painting may have been left unfinished.