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Home > Auctions > 20th February 2018 > Roman 'Aphrodite of Knidos' Statuette

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LOT 0137

Sold for (Inc. bp): £20,000

9 3/4" (876 grams, 25cm including stand).

A bronze statuette of the goddess Venus standing nude in the classic Greek pose of the Knidos Aphrodite, with left hand covering herself, and right hand raised to her chest; the head slightly turned to the left, centre-parted hair tied in a chignon; armlets to the upper arms; an opening behind the diadem; mounted on a 19th century marble pedestal.

Property of a London collector; previously in the private collection of Louis de Clercq (1826-1901); thence by descent; accompanied by an Art Loss Register certificate.

Cf. Ridgway, B. S. Hellenistic Sculpture I, 1990, p.355-356, Taf. 181-B.

The Aphrodite of Knidos, created by Praxiteles in the fourth century BC, was the first monumental female nude in Classical sculpture. The statue of the goddess established a canon for the female nude, and inspired many derivatives and variants, all of which survive as Roman copies and generally known as the Venus Pudica. The Roman writer Pausanius tells us that the original statue stood in a shrine commemorating the Athenian naval victory over the Spartans in 394 BC off Knidos, a narrow peninsula on the southern coast of Turkey. Interpretations of the pose are that it is Aphrodite covering herself after being interrupted from her bath, though a new interpretation suggests the nudity of the goddess signifies her divine birth from the sea and her role at Knidos as Aphrodite Euploia ("fair voyage"), protectress of seafarers. The statue was eventually taken to Constantinople in the fourth century AD where it stood in the Palace of Lausus; it was destroyed in a fire during riots in 475 AD.