Statuette of Venus (Venus de Clerq)

Object Details


Statuette of Venus (Venus de Clerq)






Roman Empire (Place created)


175 - 200


Marble with polychromy


97.2 × 33 × 20.3 cm (38 1/4 × 13 × 8 in.)

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Venus, the goddess of love, is shown naked, undressing for her bath. She stands with her right hand modestly covering her pubic area while her left hand drops her garment on a vase. Her eyes were originally inlaid in a contrasting material, and she would have worn earrings.

This Roman statuette copies on a smaller scale one of the most famous Greek statues ever made. About 350 B.C. the Greek sculptor Praxiteles carved a cult statue of the goddess Aphrodite, the first full-scale female nude in Greek art. Praxiteles' statue became extremely popular, especially in the Hellenistic and Roman periods, capturing the attention of both writers and artists. Although the original statue does not survive, its popularity led to a huge production of copies and variations on the theme, so that today more nude Aphrodites survive than any other single ancient statue type.

The idea of the goddess caught in a private moment follows a certain voyeuristic tradition in Hellenistic art, and part of the statue's appeal was clearly erotic. The gesture of the goddess's right hand is ambiguous, drawing attention to her pubis and concealing it at the same time. Roman writers such as Pliny did not hesitate to point out the overtly sexual reaction that Praxiteles' statue produced in viewers.

- 1882

Aimé Péretié, French, 1808 - 1882

1882 - 1901

Louis de Clercq, French, 1836 - 1901 (Paris, France), by inheritance to his nephew, Louis-Henri de Boisgelin, 1901.

1901 -

Louis-Henri de Boisgelin


Nicolas Koutoulakis (Paris, France)

- 1972

Robin Symes, Limited, English, 1977 - 2005, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972.

Beyond Beauty: Antiquities as Evidence (December 16, 1997 to January 17, 1999)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 16, 1997 to January 17, 1999
Aphrodite and the Gods of Love (March 28, 2012 to May 26, 2013)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, October 26, 2011 to February 20, 2012
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa (Malibu), March 28 to July 9, 2012

de Clercq, M. Louis, Joachim Menant, and Andre de Ridder. Collection de Clercq: Catalogue methodique et raisonne. Paris: 1888-1911. . Vol. IV (1906), p. 10, no. 10; pl. IV.

Jidejian, Nina. Sidon through the Ages. Beirut: 1971. p. 88, fig. 218.

Vermeule, Cornelius, and Norman Neuerberg. Catalogue of the Ancient Art in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Malibu: 1973. p. 5, no. 5.

Vermeule, Cornelius C. Greek Art. Socrates to Sulla. Art of Antiquity 2, pt. 2. Boston: 1980. pp. 12, 16, no. 12, ill.

Pfrommer, Michael. "Zur Venus Colonna," Istanbuler Mitteilungen 35 (1985), pp. 172-180 p. 174, 178, ill. pl. 39, 1.

Stewart, Andrew. Greek Sculpture: An Exploration (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990) pp. 177, 279-80, ill. fig. 505.

Havelock, Christine Mitchell. The Aphrodite of Knidos and Her Successors. A Historical Review of the Female Nude in Greek Art. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1995. p. 66; fig. 17.

K. Seaman, "Retrieving the Original Aphrodite of Knidos", Rendiconti dell'Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei. Classe di Scienze morali, storiche e filologiche s.9, v.15 (2004), 531-594

Sacks, David. Encyclopedia of the Ancient Greek World (New York: Facts on File, Inc., 2005) p. 34, ill.

Sofroniew, Alexandra. Household Gods: Private Devotion in Ancient Greece and Rome. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2015), pp. 67-69, fig. 32.