• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2056

    ANTIQUITIES

    9 December 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 119

    A GREEK BRONZE APHRODITE

    CIRCA 2ND-1ST CENTURY B.C.

    Price Realised  

    A GREEK BRONZE APHRODITE
    CIRCA 2ND-1ST CENTURY B.C.
    Hollow cast, the voluptuous goddess depicted nude, originally standing with her weight on her left leg, her right bent at the knee and slightly advanced, her right arm bent acutely, the graceful hand open around her left breast, her left arm before her, bent at the elbow, her open palm facing her, her head turned to her left and angled slightly downward toward her left hand, her oval face with idealized features, the lips slightly parted, the almond-shaped eyes with contoured lids, the brows on a continuous plane with the straight nose, her wavy center-parted hair loosely rolled back at the sides, bound in a band and tied in a chignon at the back
    11 in. (27.9 cm.) high


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    This exceptional bronze is based on the renowned 4th century B.C. masterpiece known as the Cnidian Aphrodite by Praxiteles. Portraying the goddess as she emerges from her bath, the prototype and subsequent interpretations epitomize the ancient ideal of feminine sensuality. As Kozloff and Mitten note (The Gods Delight, The Human Figure in Classical Bronze, p. 106), the universal attraction of this pose can be summarized in the psychology of the experience as "the viewer became, in essence, a voyeur, allowed to behold something that was at once enticing and forbidden."
    While the original contextualized the scene with the addition of a water vase and discarded drapery, later versions often portray the scene without Praxiteles' thoughtful diversions from Aphrodite's nudity. She is meant to be admired from every angle. In describing a similar example from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Kozloff and Mitten explain (op. cit., p. 107), "from each point of view, a special aspect of her beauty is stressed: the face in the left view, the buttocks from the back, the breasts in the right, and the pelvis from the left. ... Her gestures are decorous, her pose convincingly self-protective, and her head...still reflects some shadow of the soft elegance that must have distinguished the original Praxitelean image."

    Provenance

    Khawam Brothers collection, since 1940.
    with Khepri, R. Khawam & Cie, Paris, 1986.


    Pre-Lot Text

    PROPERTY FROM A EUROPEAN PRIVATE COLLECTION