A Roman Marble Sculpture of Venus, ca. 1st century CE



Inspired by the Aphrodite of Knidos by Praxiteles, circa 350 B.C., of slender form, the lifesized goddess standing in a graceful attitude with her weight on her right leg, her left leg slightly advanced, her upper torso subtly angled forward, creating a shallow crease across her waist just above her navel, with broad hips, a slender waist, and small breasts.

One of the most famous and most represented goddesses in Greek art, Aphrodite is the only female figure to be shown naked and represents one of the most significant artistic achievements by the Greeks. This Roman copy, the original dating to Hellenistic times, is often referred to as the "Aphrodite Pudica." Here, the goddess is shown with her right arm bent to cover her breasts and her left placed to coyly cover ber pubis. This pose first appears in the middle of the 4th century B.C. in the Aphrodite of Knidos. One of the most famous works of Praxiteles, it is the first entirely nude image of the goddess and, Piny writes ((Nat. Hist. 36, 20), shocked many contemporaries.

The Aphrodite of Knidos, commissioned by the island of Kos and turned down by them as being too immodest, was then acquired by the city of Knidos, lying directly across the sea from Kos on a rugged peninsula in Asia Minor. Standing in a circular temple dramatically situated above the city's two harbors, the statue soon brought the city renown. She became an object of pilgrimage as well as a standard of female beauty, as evidenced thereafter by the numerous copies commissioned by wealthy Romans to decorate their villas and gardens.

Cf. A. Pasquier and J.-L. Martinez, eds., Praxitèle, Paris, 2007, no. 41.
H. Hoffmann, Ten Centuries that Shaped the West, Greek and Roman Art in Texas Collections, Houston, 1971, no. 16.

Condition:   Torso only, fragmentary as shown. Minor nicks and abrasions overall with remains of incrustation and root marks throughout.  The torso intact and in very good condition overall.

Dimensions: Height: 35 inches (including 4 inch pedestal) 

Provenance:  Private Maryland collection, acquired in the 1950s.

Category: Over $10000, Sculpture, Stone

Type: Roman