Venus stands nude, shielding herself with her left hand. She wears a crescent-shaped diadem in her wavy hair, which is centrally-parted, pulled back over the ears and bound in a looped bun at the nape of the neck. The dolphin at her feet, ridden by her son, Cupid, supports the statue and alludes to the goddess' birth from the sea.
This so-called pudica pose is based on a celebrated though now-lost cult statue of Aphrodite made by the Greek sculptor, Praxiteles, in the 4th century BC that stood in the goddess’ temple on the island of Knidos. Praxiteles’s statue was the first life-size representation of a female nude in Western art, and quickly became the archetypal model for depictions of the goddess during the Late Classical and Hellenistic periods. Copies in different media and on various scales proliferated across the Roman world, too, where they were displayed in domestic as well as sacred contexts.