Aphrodite of Cnidus

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Praxiteles (fl. 370—330 bc)

Pliny the Elder (23—79 ad) Roman statesman and scholar


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Statue by Praxiteles, made for the city of Cnidus in Asia Minor. It is now lost, but it was his most famous work in antiquity (Pliny thought it was the finest statue in the world), and was the ancestress of the modern female nude—the first life-size statue showing the goddess completely naked. Several Roman copies survive (for example in the Vatican); they show Aphrodite (Venus) in a gently twisted pose, with the right hand casually masking the pudenda and the left hand dropping her robe over an urn. The statue was placed in an open shrine so it could be seen from all four sides, each view being equally admired. According to some ancient sources, Praxiteles' mistress, the celebrated courtesan Phryne, was his model for the statue.

Subjects: Art.

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