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Work: The Venus de Milo

Copy of sculpture

Venus di Milo (cast in plaster)


202 cm high
cast from the original
Greek and Roman


130 BC
202 cm high
Louvre Museum, ParisSi apre in una nuova finestra


The first nude portrayal of the Goddess Aphrodite would appear to be the Cnidian Aphrodite which was carved in marble by Praxilites in c. 360BC (traditional iconography laid down that she should be completely clothed and severe). The statue originally stood in the temple dedicated to the Goddess in Cnidus (an ancient city in Asia minor) and was subsequently used as a model for the many studies of the goddess made during the Hellenistic Period.

One of the most famous of these is undoubtedly the Venus found at Melos in 1820. This celebrated study of the goddess of love and sensuality, the symbol of antique beauty, appears to be a second-century BC copy in Parian marble of an original sculpture by Lysippus which has not survived. The figure is shown in a standing position but with a relaxed twisting movement of the shoulders, waist, hips and legs. This creates a kind of S-curve which determines the development of the entire figure. The weight is supported by her right leg while her left is slightly forward with the knee bent, and turned towards her right thigh, suggesting modesty.

The crumpled mass of heavy drapery which covers the goddess from her hips to her feet has been left unpolished and defines an oblique line parallel to the line of her shoulders. Her head, with its fine, oval, typically Greek face, is turned to the viewer’s right. Her expression is impassive, worthy of a goddess, and recalls the inexpressive faces of the Classical period. Her hair is tied up with a ribbon and is finely modelled in a naturalistic, descriptive manner, as can be seen in the lock which has come loose from the ribbon and is hanging on her neck.

Photo: Maurizio Bolognini. Museo Tattile Statale Omero Archive.