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Work Statuette (of Aphrodite?)

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Statuette of Aphrodite

©1990 RMN / Hervé Lewandowski

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Etruscan Art (9th-1st centuries BC)

Author(s):
Astier Marie-Bénédicte

This statuette, discovered at the shrine of Diana in Nemi, probably represents a goddess - perhaps Aphrodite. It belongs to a category of slender, long-limbed ex-voto figures that were very common in central Italy in the fourth century BC and also depicted devotees and priests. The face, with its regular features echoing classical Greek models, forms a deliberate contrast to the inordinately long, flat body with its scant detail, on which breasts and knees are little more than bumps.

The slender, long-limbed ex-voto figure

This bronze female statuette was found at the shrine of Diana near Lake Nemi, south of Rome, and is characteristic of an unusual type of long-limbed votive figure that was widely produced in central Italy from the fourth century BC. This particular example was probably made around 350 BC. It represents a goddess - perhaps Aphrodite - wearing a diadem, a long tunic, and shoes with curled tips. Characters other than deities, such as devotees and priests, are also found among ex-votos of this type.

A stylized body

Like all statuettes of this type, the Louvre goddess has an extremely stylized silhouette. Her body is disproportionately long and flat, and there is an almost total absence of contours. Modeling is limited to the bare minimum: the arms, suggested by two deep incisions, hang down flat against the body and are of a piece with the torso, while tiny bumps indicate the breasts and knees. The only indication of the tunic is the slight relief where the lower edge meets the shoes. This choice of style may have fulfilled some magical or religious purpose.

A head inspired by classical Greek ideals of beauty

The head is the only part of the statuette which is of normal proportions and has some volume. The concern for naturalism it reveals is inspired by classical Greek statuary, which deliberately accentuates the schematization of the human body. The wavy locks of the hair, like the decoration cut into the diadem, are carefully detailed, highlighting the perfect oval of the face with its regular features and impassive expression.

Bibliography

- Ombre della Sera, Volterra, Museo Guarnucci, 1999, n 47, p. 63.

- CRISTOFANI M., I Bronzi degli Etruschi, 1985, n 67, p. 273-274.

- TERROSI ZANCO O., "Ex-voto allungati dell'Italia centrale", in Studi etruschi, XXIX, Florence, 1961, p. 425-428.

Technical description

  • Statuette of Aphrodite

    C. 350 BC

    Provenance: sanctuary of Diana, central Italy

    Manufacture: Etruria

  • Bronze, solid-cast

    H. 50.5 cm

  • Former Tyszkiewicz collection

    Br 321

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Denon wing
    Ground floor
    Etruria II
    Room 19
    Display case 7

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