Greece, Hellenistic period, ca. 3rd to 2nd century BCE. A finely carved white marble sculpture of Aphrodite (Roman Venus), the goddess of romantic love, depicted in the round, with a nude torso, her lower body partially draped as was favored by Greek Hellenistic sculptors, i.e. Alexandros of Antioch's "Venus de Milo" (130 to 100 BCE) thought to be inspired by Praxiteles' entirely nude the "Aphrodite of Knidos" (ca. 360-330 BCE). She stands with her curvaceous right hip swayed outward, the voluminous folds of drapery cascading over her long legs. Notice that her elbow is leaning upon a column, this device was used for larger marble sculptures to serve as a support the figure; hence this statuette may indeed have been a maquette for a more monumental work. The sculptor of this piece delineated the beautiful goddess of romantic love with the utmost sensitivity and skill. Size: 3.625" W x 7.5" H (9.2 cm x 19 cm); 8.5" H (21.6 cm) on included custom stand.
Nude or partially nude statues of Aphrodite/Venus made quite a statement in their day (as well as beyond), because they were among the first sculptures to portray a goddess in the nude, a practice that previously had only been reserved for males. Women had been depicted in the nude on earlier Greek pottery paintings; however, those women were typically slave girls or courtesans rather than deities. As an image of a sensual Aphrodite, this example would have been regarded as quite erotic during antiquity. Speaking of the Aphrodite of Knidos for example, Pliny observed that some men were "overcome with love for the statue." Venus/Aphrodite has inspired countless seductive sculptural masterworks throughout art history, among the most famous, Attic sculptor Praxiteles's "Aphrodite of Knidos" (ca. 360 to 330 BCE), "Lely's Venus" (ca. 100 to 199 CE), a Roman copy of a Greek original which is now lost) named for the painter Sir Peter Lily, and Alexandros of Antioch's "Venus de Milo" ( 130 to 100 BCE).
Provenance: private East Coast, USA collection
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