Statuette of Venus

Unknown1st century B.C.

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Playing on the idea of the beauty of the goddess of love, many artists depicted Venus at her toilette: bathing, putting on jewelry, examining herself in a mirror, or, as here, tying a ribbon in her hair. This Roman statuette shows the goddess with her head tilted and her arms raised as she pulls a length of ribbon tight. Although most of the ribbon has broken away, one end still falls over her shoulder. The pose of this statuette is a variant of one of the favorite ways to depict the goddess in this period, Venus emerging from the sea with her arms stretched wide to wring the water from her hair. This pose with the ribbon also allowed the unknown sculptor to revel in the eroticism of the goddess's exposed nude body.

A small and intimate statuette like this one was designed for display in a wealthy home. Alabaster was an expensive material and the sculptor has economized somewhat by attaching the statuette to a base carved from limestone. Many traces of paint remain on the statuette, including purple on the clothing draped over the tree stump at Venus's feet.


  • Title: Statuette of Venus
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1st century B.C.
  • Physical Dimensions: 30.5 cm (12 in.)
  • Type: Mythological figure
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Alabaster
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 78.AA.6
  • Culture: Roman
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Villa Collection, Malibu, California
  • Creator Display Name: Unknown
  • Classification: Sculpture (Visual Works)

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