The present composition is a variant of the celebrated Hellenistic statue of the third century B.C. known as Crouching Venus, represented in numerous versions, which are believed to be copies of a statue by Doidalsas of Bythania, an artist who may have existed or may indeed be a product of modern scholarship. The attribution to Doidalsas rests on a corrupt, problematical passage from Pliny who refers to a statue of Aphrodite bathing herself in the Portico d’Ottavia in Rome.
The most famous versions of the so-called ‘Doidalsas’ type are the Uffizi Venus, recorded in 1704 in the Villa Medici in Rome, the Lely Venus, and the Naples Venus. The Lely Venus, currently on a long-term loan to the British Museum, was acquired by Charles I from the Gonzaga collection, where it was recorded in the 1631 inventory of statues. After Charles I’s execution, the sculpture was offered at auction and purchased by the artist Peter Lely, from whom it derives its name. The Naples Venus, conserved in the Museo Nazionale, was already in the Loggia of the Palazzo Madama-Medici in Rome in the first years of the sixteenth century, and was the subject of numerous drawings by Marten van Heemskerck, who visited the eternal city between 1532 and 1535.
Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny, Taste and the Antique, Yale University Press, 1981, p. 321-323;
Brunilde Sismondo Ridgway, Hellenistic Sculpture, vol. 1, The University of Wisconsin Press, 2001, p. 230;
Selma Holo, 'A Note on the Afterlife of the Crouching Aphrodite in the Renaissance' in The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal, vol. 6/7 (1978/1979), pp. 232-36
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