Bronze statuette of Venus or her mother, Dione


British Museum

British Museum
London, United Kingdom

In 1791-92 some Albanian peasants found an extraordinary group of nineteen bronze statuettes near Paramythia in Epirus, north-west Greece. The bronzes were deities, including a Lar or household god, and may originally have come from a domestic shrine in a rich Roman house. The statuettes were made in the Roman period, probably around the middle of the second century AD, but copy Classical and Hellenistic Greek sculptures on a larger scale. This figure shows Venus, the Roman goddess of love, or perhaps her mother Dione, with sensuously flowing drapery and long, sinuous locks of hair. The dove on her head makes a pleasing head-dress. She originally had an attachment of some kind across her hips, perhaps additonal drapery, for which the holes remain. The original statue on which this miniature version was based probably dated to the first century BC. Most of the statuettes went to St Petersburg, and were dispersed after the death of Empress Catherine of Russia. Twelve were bought by the collector Richard Payne-Knight, who bequeathed them to the British Museum in 1824. Two more were given by the widow of the antiquary John Hawkins in 1904. The present whereabouts of the other five is unknown.

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  • Title: Bronze statuette of Venus or her mother, Dione
  • Date Created: 100/199
  • Physical Dimensions: Height: 30.48cm
  • External Link: British Museum collection online
  • Subject: classical deity; bird
  • Registration number: 1824,0428.1
  • Place: Excavated/Findspot Paramythia
  • Period/culture: Roman
  • Material: bronze
  • Copyright: Photo: © Trustees of the British Museum
  • Acquisition: Bequeathed by Payne Knight, Richard