This version of the goddess Venus, known from about twenty ancient replicas, is traditionally associated with the epithets Pontia (of the sea) and Euploia (fair voyage). According to Vermuele and Brauer (Stone Sculptures, The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, p. 50-51), the original is traditionally thought to be from the time of Praxiteles, circa 350 B.C., and may have stood in a temple by the sea.
Very few of the remaining sculptures preserve the original veiled head; the most complete examples, as well as this present lot, include the example in the Staatliche Kunstsammlungen, Dresden (inv. Hm 318) and the Venus from Ince Blundell Hall, now in Liverpool and which wears a diadem and the dolphin support, confirming that the type represents Venus rather than a nymph (see no. 599 in Delivorrias, "Aphrodite" in LIMC). The type was also appropriated by the Romans for private portraiture; see the example in the Capitoline Museum, Rome, with a Trajanic portrait, no. 71 in Schmidt, "Venus" in LIMC.
The upper part of the goddess's body is naked with a loose mantle around her hips and legs, pulled up over her head, accentuating the sinuous curve of her body, particularly noticeable on her back. The drapery has some dramatic folds below the left arm and traces of her right hand remain on her hip. The Roman examples of this type would most likely have been used to decorate a bath or a gymnasium.