Roman copy of a Greek statue of the 3rd or 2nd century b.c.
Marble; H. with plinth 62 1/2 in. (158.8 cm)
Purchase, 1952 (52.11.5)
The goddess of love is shown as though surprised at her bath. Her arms reach forward to shield her breasts in a gesture that both conceals and reveals her sexuality.
Statues of Aphrodite proliferated during the Hellenistic period. All were inspired to some degree by the Aphrodite of Knidos, created in the fourth century B.C. by the famous Greek sculptor Praxiteles. That statue, the first major work to show the goddess without clothing, was celebrated throughout antiquity as one of the seven wonders of the world. This particular work has the same gesture of modesty as the Knidia and is very similar to another Roman copy, the so-called Medici Venus, which has stood in the Tribuna of the Uffizi in Florence since 1688, and during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries it was considered one of the finest ancient works in existence.