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HOME : Classical Antiquities : Marble Sculptures : Marble Torso of Aphrodite
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Marble Torso of Aphrodite - LA.545
Origin: Mediteranean
Circa: 1 st Century BC
Dimensions: 7.20" (18.3cm) high
Collection: Classical Antiquities
Medium: Marble


Additional Information: Art Logic—Sotheby's (New York), Property of the Alice H. Decosta Revocable Trust

Location: UAE
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Description
In the vast Hellenic pantheon few gods enjoy such an iconic status as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, and sexual rapture. Venerated by the Romans as Venus, Aphrodite’s immortal visage epitomizes the Greek standards of classical beauty that remain the aspired aesthetic of the modern day. Aphrodite has inspired countless artists throughout the centuries; since the Renaissance, the goddess has been intrinsically linked to Botticelli’s masterpiece The Birth of Venus, where the ethereal maiden rises from the sea upon the sensuous pedestal of a gaping clam. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Aphrodite was born from the seed of Uranus, the divine father whose genitals were cut off by his son Cronus and thrown into sea. Fermenting with the tides, a “white foam arose from the immortal flesh; with it a girl grew,” begetting Aphrodite—a full- grown woman, nubile and infinitely desirable. Fearing the jealousies that would invariably arise amongst the gods competing for her favor, Zeus cast Aphrodite to the fiery, volcanic abode of Hephaestus where she was betrothed to the deformed god of smithing. To placate his glamorous wife, Hephaestus forged marvelous jewelry that made Aphrodite even more irresistible to the hearts of men. Despite the assiduous efforts of her faithful husband, the divine seductress carried on legendary affairs with Ares, Adonis, and Anchises, the latter begetting a son, Aeneas—the Trojan hero and mythic founder of Rome. Vain, glamorous, and sadistically jealous, Aphrodite endures in Western tradition as the very avatar of beauty, elucidating the mystery of sex that was for the Greeks as perplexing as it is today. This torso belongs to a 1st century B.C. Roman copy of the first female nude of ancient art, the celebrated Aphrodite of Knidos, sculpted by Praxiteles of Athens in the 4th century. Three centuries after the appearance of male nudity in Greek sculpture, the Aphrodite of Knidos establishes the canon for the proportion of female bodies in sculpture, enshrining for the first time in marble the eternal idea of classical beauty and grace. The Roman writer Pliny the Elder reports how Praxiteles had sculpted two versions of his Aphrodite: one draped and one naked. While the inhabitants of Kos chose the more traditional draped goddess, the city of Knidos bought the nude one, setting her in a round temple where she could be admired in all her splendour. Such was the beauty of the statue, and the prestige it brought to the city, that the inhabitants of Knidos proudly started to represent this Aphrodite on their coins. Ancient copies of the work of Praxiteles adorn today some of the most important Museums and Collections in the world: Uffizi Gallery, Vatican Museums, British Museum, Prado, Paul Getty Museum among them. This magnificent marble torso from the 1st century B.C. is just over seven inches high; though deprived of head and limb, little imagination is required to envision the lost remains of this glorious statue. Though modest in proportion, this superb relic of ancient artistry survives as a memory and testament to the Hellenic mythology so imbued in the cultural traditions of the West. With her sensuous curves and soft, gentle form, the ancient sculptor has achieved a truly remarkable feat through brilliant, polished marble —that eternal stone so emblematic of the classical age. From her youthful breasts to the delicate features running down her spine, this profoundly beautiful creation captures the eroticism and mystery befitting the goddess of love—an enviable treasure every bit as relevant today as it once was for its ancient adorer. Ref: P. Blome, ‘Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection’, (Geneva, 1999), p. 23, no. 18.

The goddess is standing with her right arm held apart from her body, her hair falling in four long tresses down below the nape of the neck. In the vast Hellenic pantheon few gods enjoy such an iconic status as Aphrodite, the goddess of love, beauty, and sexual rapture. Venerated by the Romans as Venus, Aphrodite's immortal visage epitomizes the Greek standards of classical beauty that remain the aspired aesthetic of the modern day. Aphrodite has inspired countless artists throughout the centuries; since the Renaissance, the goddess has been intrinsically linked to Botticelli’s masterpiece The Birth of Venus, where the ethereal maiden rises from the sea upon the sensuous pedestal of a gaping clam.

According to Hesiod’s Theogony, Aphrodite was born from the seed of Uranus, the divine father whose genitals were cut off by his son Cronus and thrown into sea. Fermenting with the tides, a “white foam arose from the immortal flesh; with it a girl grew,” begetting Aphrodite—a full- grown woman, nubile and infinitely desirable. Fearing the jealousies that would invariably arise amongst the gods competing for her favor, Zeus cast Aphrodite to the fiery, volcanic abode of Hephaestus where she was betrothed to the deformed god of smithing. To placate his glamorous wife, Hephaestus forged marvelous jewelry that made Aphrodite even more irresistible to the hearts of men. Despite the assiduous efforts of her faithful husband, the divine seductress carried on legendary affairs with Ares, Adonis, and Anchises, the latter begetting a son, Aeneas—the Trojan hero and mythic founder of Rome. Vain, glamorous, and sadistically jealous, Aphrodite endures in Western tradition as the very avatar of beauty, elucidating the mystery of sex that was for the Greeks as perplexing as it is today.

What remains of this magnificent representation from the 1st century B.C. is a marble torso measuring just over seven inches high; though deprived of head and limb, little imagination is required to envision the lost remains of this glorious statue. Though modest in proportion, this superb relic of ancient artistry survives as a memory and testament to the Hellenic mythology so imbued in the cultural traditions of the West. With her sensuous curves and soft, gentle form, the ancient sculptor has achieved a truly remarkable feat through brilliant, polished marble—that eternal stone so emblematic of the classical age. From her youthful breasts to the delicate features running down her spine, this profoundly beautiful creation captures the eroticism and mystery befitting the goddess of love—an enviable treasure every bit as relevant today as it once was for its ancient adorer.

Ref: P. Blome, 'Basel Museum of Ancient Art and Ludwig Collection', (Geneva, 1999), p. 23, no. 18. 2nd opinion... MARBLE TORSO OF THE APHRODITE OF KNIDOS - (LA.545)

 

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