Venus De Milo, also known as Aphrodite of Melos, is a replica of the original statue that currently resides in the Louvre in Paris. Originally sculpted in approximately 130 B.C., it was rediscovered in 1820 on the Aegean island of Melos.
In the early and mid nineteenth century Classical art was the height of scholastic and cultural fashion. These were the days before cheap, easy travel and quality photography, so plaster casts such as the present lot were one of the standard tools for studying Classical art history. When a new piece of Greek or Roman sculpture was discovered, museums all over Europe would obtain plaster casts of it. In the 1950s and '60s many collections all over Europe were broken up - literally - as casts fell out of fashion; today, plaster collections such as the one in the Ashmolean Museum are rare, and valued once again.