Roman Bronze Venus
Roman · 2nd century A.D.,
H: 20.8 cm (8.1 in)
Naked goddess of love and beauty stands with her body leaning slightly forward. The weight rests on her left leg, her right leg being bent with the knee drawn backward. The head is turned to the right. As both arms are lost, the tentative reconstruction of the original composition should not omit the following considerations. It is not clear if the arms, as one may suggest, were made in a different material, most probably they were cast separately. If the arms were simply lowered, there would not be the need to cast them separately. As the size of the statuette is not small the additional cast would be necessary for the arms put in a more spatial relationship with the body.
One famous type of Aphrodite statue exists, it reflects the attitude first created by the Greek sculptor Praxiteles in the 4th century B.C. in the marble statue of the Knidian Aphrodite, – with one hand put on her pubes and the other holding the end of the drapery that is placed over the vessel standing beside her. Since its creation the type became widely popular, it was continuously copied, and the variants were added to the main type. Such was a figure with one arm at her pubes, the other covering the breast, the so-called Aphrodite Pudica type. As the bronze statues and statuettes did not need any support in the shape of the vessel and the drapery put at the side of the figure, the described composition of the arms was often employed in the bronze representations of the goddess.
A different compositional opportunity is presented in the arms, which are projected, bent, raised, and/or hold the attributes. Venus may hold a mirror in her left hand while looking at her reflection, the other hand probably held a wreath or a fillet. This present work reveals the importance of the details: the joint of the separately cast arms was hidden by the heavy armlets; soft and wavy locks of the hairstyle were carefully incised in the model as well as the band seen from the back of the head. The band ties the long hair in the middle above the forehead so that it creates a tall bun with symmetrical curls looking like the framework of a diadem. This elaborate hairstyle of the Hellenistic fashion is echoing the beauty of Venus seen in the delicate features of her face, with small and full lips and wide-open eyes where the tiny pupils were engraved.
Entirely preserved except for the lost arms, the figure has a beautiful dark green patina.
Art market, prior to 1980;
Ex- European private collection, ca. 1980;
Ex- Apolonia Ancient Art, Denver.
COMSTOCK M., VERMEULE C., Greek, Etruscan & Roman Bronzes in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Boston, 1971, pp. 59-66.
KENT HILL D., Catalogue of Classical Bronze Sculpture in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore, 1949, pp. 89-98.