Statuette of Venus
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Roman, A.D. 100 - 300
Silver and gold
7 9/16 x 21 1/4 in.

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Romans kept small statues of gods as part of household shrines. In wealthy homes, such statuettes were often carved in precious materials--gold, silver, or ivory. This silver statuette depicts a goddess leaning against a short column. Her extended left hand probably once held a phiale or shallow bowl, and her raised right hand a scepter or staff. A diadem adorns her head and a bracelet encircles her upper arm. The way in which her garment falls off her shoulder indicates that this statuette represents Venus, the goddess of love.

Depictions of Venus fully clothed with her dress slipping off one shoulder and leaning on a support began in large-scale Greek statues meant for public display in the 400s B.C. The type remained popular throughout Greek and Roman art and, as seen here, was often translated into miniaturized statuette form for household use.