The British Museum
- Ancient Greece, an introduction
- Olympic games
- Victorious athlete: The Vaison Daidoumenos
- Prize amphora showing a chariot race
- A competitor in the long jump
- Sprinter on a vase from Rhodes and a bronze running girl
- Sophilos: a new direction in Greek pottery
- The Parthenon
- Egyptian blue on the Parthenon sculptures
- Bonnie Greer on the Parthenon sculptures at the British Museum
- A Hellenistic Aphrodite
A Hellenistic Aphrodite
Roman copy of Statue of a Naked Aphrodite Crouching at her Bath, original by Praxiteles, 2nd century AD, marble, 1.12 m © Trustees of the British Museum
A new type of nude Aphrodite
In the fourth century B.C.E. the sculptor Praxiteles created a life-size naked statue of Aphrodite (Venus). It was placed in a shrine in her temple at Knidos in south-western Turkey. It was an important innovation in classical sculpture, and subsequent Hellenistic sculptors created several new types of nude Aphrodite figures, that further emphasized the sexual nature of her cult. This trend perhaps reflected both the rising social status of women and changes in male attitudes towards women: previously only male statues had been naked.
Most of these statues show Aphrodite ineffectually attempting to cover her nakedness with her hands. The action in fact only succeeds in drawing the viewer's eye towards the sexual areas. In this statue the voluptuous Aphrodite crouches down and turns her head sharply to her right, as if surprised by her audience.
Marble statue of Venus, Roman copy of a Greek original by Praxiteles (of the type of the Capitoline Venus), c. 100-150 C.E. found at Campo Iemini, near Torvaianica, Lazio, Italy, 88 inches high © Trustees of the British Museum
The three-dimensionality of the statue is typical of Hellenistic sculpture, as is the hairstyle with its elaborate top-knot. Another figure of Aphrodite in The British Museum (Sc. 1578) could almost be the same figure standing up. Other versions of the crouching Aphrodite are known: some have an additional figure of Eros, the god of love, while others show the goddess kneeling on a water jar to indicate that she is bathing.
This statue is sometimes known as "Lely's Venus" named after the painter Sir Peter Lely. He acquired it from the collection of Charles I, following the King's execution in 1649. After Lely's own death, it found its way back into the Royal Collection.
B.S. Ridgway, Hellenistic Sculpture I: The Styles of ca. 331-200 B.C. (University of Wisconsin Press, 1990).
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Want to join the conversation?
- why did the Greeks have nude statues?(6 votes)
- The Egyptians had fully clothed statues so the greeks wanted a natural form(2 votes)
- because greek artists believed in sculpting and drawing in humans most natural form.(3 votes)
- The Egyptians had fully clothed Gods or mortals,so the greeks went with their natural state.(4 votes)
- Why did she try to cover up her nakedness?(1 vote)
- ]]"She" (Aphrodite) wasn't doing or covering anything. "She" was a character in a story being told by the sculptor. That artist wanted to make a sexual comment with his work, so he made a statue in which the character Aphrodite was attempting to protect her modesty by covering her breasts or other "sexual" parts of her body with her hands or by bending away from the viewer. The article pointed out that these positions only serve to draw viewers' eyes and attention to those very parts. "She" had nothing to do with any of this, the artist (most likely a male) had everything to do with it.(2 votes)
- why dont you guys do other greek olympians(1 vote)
- why are they nude all the time is it a law(1 vote)
- because greek artists believed in sculpting humans in their most natural form, male or female, the body was and is beautiful(1 vote)
- what core values and characteristics are present in each sculpture and era ?(1 vote)
- this sculpture was a first in female nudes, its mentioned that it could be seen as a rise in the social status of women.
Why so?(1 vote)
- Why is the Goddess Venus always nude? Is it because she is the Goddess of love?(1 vote)
- venus (Roman) or Aphrodite (Greek) is shown nude because that is beautiful, especially in the aesthetic of the greek classical time.(1 vote)
- is Aphrodite a god yes or no?(0 votes)
- yes. she was the goddess of love and sexual beauty. she is a greek god, however her roman counterpart is Venus.(6 votes)
- The only thing that I don't get is that there isn't a God(dess) for Earth. Plz tell me why that is (if you know).(0 votes)
- Well, actually, Gaia isn't a Titaness, she IS a goddess. Because she fell in love with the sky god, she produced kids that are known as the Titans, to which there are 6 male titans and 6 female titans.(1 vote)