Venus (un)tying her sandal
Ponts de Paris
This is a hand crafted 1996 terra-cotta copy (30 cm.) of a copy of a copy of a remnant of what is left of an ancient Roman sculpture. It is a beautiful object and of great aesthetic value. The artisan did a great job creating a mold and bake this hollow statue in the oven from a brick of wet clay and mount the result. Trying to find out and explain what the statuette is representing, has been an interesting journey.
Maybe some-day, some-one will recognise the maker of this copy (R.U.) and any details of where the original Roman statuette can be found.
Although dozens of different copies can be found of this specific Venus it can not be determined from which original the all derive.
At first glance this is a “Venus Anadyomene”: Venus (Aphrodite) emerging from the sea, her hair made of the ocean’s foam. Venus, or Aphrodite statues come in many varieties since roman sculptor Praxiteles is said to have created the first one in around 400 BC. For centuries they were used for worship and pleasure: in chapels, palaces, nympeaums etc.. In the centuries after Praxiteles they come in large numbers, many varieties, life sized and reduced. Other “postures” also became popular: Venus Genetrix (crouching Venus), Venus Calipyge (Venus with beautiful buttocks) etc…
This Venus (or what is left of her), with bend torso, lowered right shoulder and right leg raised, is no doubt a Venus tying (or untying) her sandal. Not much reliable information can be easily found on this type or genre, besides: “a hundred are known in collections around the world as the smaller copies were popular as gifts” to accompany the deceased into his after life.
Besides a copy of Venus tying her sandals in the British Museum which was bought in Rome in the 18th century, hardly any of the others (Boston, Paris) have any accessible provenance information. Not to speak of the many plaster copies that must have been made over the centuries.
This is not the place to start an essay on this intriguing subject but what is nice to know: Vincent Van Gogh found a plaster copy in the stock of his brother Theo who was an art dealer in Paris. It is said Theo and/or Vincent owned several. Vincent used them as models to train his skills as a painter of the nude.