Art and sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Marble statue of a crouching Venus

This week’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a marble statue of Venus, the goddess of love, crouching at her bath. The statue is modelled after the Crouching Aphrodite type, attributed to the 3rd century BC sculptor Doidalsas of Bithynia.

Crouching Venus, Hadrianic copy of Greek original by Doidalsas mid. 3rd century BC, from the so-called Heliocaminus Baths at Villa Adriana at Tivoli,
Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome.

Venus crouches with her right knee close to the ground, turns her head to the right and, in most versions, reaches her right arm over to her left shoulder to cover her breasts. The style was often copied with many variations; in the Aphrodite Accroupie in the Louvre, her right arm is raised behind her head while in the Crouching Aphrodite discovered in Rhodes, she is depicted arranging her hair, thus openly displaying her breasts. In another variation, Venus is accompanied by a cupid and a swan (see here).

While far from the being complete, this Aphrodite from Hadrian’s Villa is considered as one of the finest of the Roman versions.

This type of Aphrodite/Venus was a favourite in the decoration of fountains and baths. This particular one comes from one of the villa’s buildings used for this purpose, the so-called Heliocaminus Baths.

This statue is on display at the National Roman Museum – Palazzo Massimo alle Terme, Rome.

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