Figure 2
Mercury as Cut Purse, by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1774.

Faringdon Collection Trust.

This painting is paired with an another allegorical subject using children: Cupid as Link Boy. In this pair, Reynolds mocked the tradition of children representing classical subjects by placing his children in the streets of London, infused with sexual undertones. Mercury was a messenger as well as the god of commerce and was often depicted with a money bag. Here, he has stolen it.