Statue of Venus



Statue of Venus


1st Century AD


Roman, after Greek original of 4th Century BC


Marble, Paros 1 & 2, Aphrodisias
54 1/4 x 19 x 11 in. (137.8 x 48.3 x 27.9 cm)

Object Number



In the fourth century BC, the islanders of Kos, as related in a delightful story by Pliny, commissioned a cult statue of Aphrodite from the sculptor Praxiteles of Athens, who created two versions: one draped, the other nude. Shocked, they took the draped type, whereupon the citizens of Knidos, on the mainland opposite the island, snapped up the nude. It became an instant sensation. For the first time, the erotically nude female body had been portrayed at life-size (or larger) in the context of divine cult. During the course of the late Classical and Hellenistic periods, a number of nude and partly nude representations of Aphrodite were created, both for religious and secular purposes. Copies of these, both small and large, proliferated during Roman times, to adorn private villas, bath complexes, and the like.

This graceful sculpture represents the goddess covering herself coyly (pudica); her right arm (now missing) would have concealed her left breast. The dolphin at her side, ridden by Eros in the form of an infant boy, or putto, alludes to her birth from the sea, while also functioning as a strut to support the statue. Her pose is the same as that in two famous copies in Rome (Capitoline) and Florence (Medici): differing only in the arrangement of the hair, these have been thought to be either variants on a common original or distinct creations.

Credit Line

Carlos Collection of Ancient Art


MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, February 2009 - August 26, 2013|
MCCM Permanent Collection Reinstallation, September 25, 2013 - Present
Comte Frederic de Clarac, Musee de sculpture antique et moderne, tome IV (Paris, 1836-1837), plate 620, number 1380.|
J.J. Bernoulli, Aphrodite. Ein Baustein zur griechischen Kunstmythologie (Leipzig, 1873), 231, number 4.|
Salomon Reinach, Repertoire de la sculpture grecque et romaine, vol. I (Paris, 1897), 332, number 6.|
Bianca Maria Felletti Maj, "Afrodite pudica," Archeologia Classica 3 (1951): 64, number 59.|
Sotheby's New York, Antiquities (December 11, 2002), 18, catalogue 12.|
Sotheby's New York, Antiquities (June 6, 2006), 28-32, catalogue 23.|
Giovanna Dell'Orto, "Headless Venus to be Whole Again", The News & Observer, Sunday, June 18, 2006, 6G.|
MCCM Newsletter, September - November 2006.|
Preston Lerner, "Delta Shocks Deity," Air & Space, Smithsonian, May 2007, 12-13.|
MCCM Newsletter, March - May 2009.|
Michael C. Carlos Museum: Highlights of the Collections (Atlanta: Michael C. Carlos Museum, 2011), 55.|
Susan Jaques, A Love for the Beautiful: Discovering America's Hidden Art Museums (Guilford, CT: Globe Pequot Press, 2012), 43.


© Michael C. Carlos Museum, Emory University. Photo by Bruce M. White, 2008.
This image is provided by the Michael C. Carlos Museum of Emory University, who retains all rights in it. This image is made available for limited non-commercial, educational, and personal use only, or for fair use as defined by United States law. For all other uses, please contact the Michael C. Carlos Museum Office of Collections Services at +1(404) 727-4282 or Users must cite the author and source of the image as they would material from any printed work, but not in any way that implies endorsement of the user or the user's use of the image. Users may not remove any copyright, trademark, or other proprietary notices, including without limitation attribution information, credits, and copyright notices that have been placed on or near the image by the Museum. The Museum assumes no responsibility for royalties or fees claimed by the artist or third parties. The User agrees to indemnify and hold harmless Emory University, its Michael C. Carlos Museum, its agents, employees, faculty members, students and trustees from and against any and all claims, losses, actions, damages, expenses, and all other liabilities, including but not limited to attorney’s fees, directly or indirectly arising out of or resulting from its use of photographic images for which permission is granted hereunder.

On View



“Statue of Venus,” Michael C. Carlos Museum Collections Online, accessed February 19, 2019,

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