The 2nd-century AD statue that inspired this reproduction, found in the collection of the Getty Villa Museum, portrays Venus enfolding herself in drapery that modestly covers yet also sensuously reveals her nudity. At her feet, a dolphin supports the figure and alludes to the goddess of love’s birth from the sea.
- Material: Bonded Marble - Dimensions: 13¼ inches H x 5¼ inches W x 3 inches D - Item #: MRSV
The original sculpture depicting Venus ultimately derived from an extremely popular cult statue known as the Aphrodite of Knidos, which was created by the sculptor Praxiteles about 350 BC. Indeed Praxiteles’s innovative work was so renowned that, beginning around 100 BC, many artists produced variations on his theme of the naked Venus. The Getty’s sculpture is a Roman interpretation of one of those Hellenistic variants. It was discovered in Rome around 1510, where it contributed to the Renaissance revival of the Classical tradition. Scholars once believed that it was owned by Cardinal Mazarin, advisor to Louis XIV, king of France. Although that anecdote is unlikely, the statue is still known to many as the Mazarin Venus. Over the course of its long history, the original statue was heavily damaged. Both breasts, as well as parts of the cloth, arms, and dolphin are restored, and the head likely belongs to another ancient female figure. Marks on the back have been interpreted as gunshot wounds suffered during the French Revolution, although this story too may be based more in romance than in reality.
Source Object: Statue of Venus (the Mazarin Venus) Unknown Maker Roman Roman Empire (Place Created) Rome, Italy (Place Found) 2nd century A.D. Marble 54.AA.11 184 cm (72 7/16 in.)