The reputation of the Venus de' Medici is such that, today, she is probably the most famous image of all antique marbles. Although first documented in 1638, when she was recorded in a book of engravings of the most beautiful antique statues in Rome, the Venus was almost certainly known in the 16th century (Haskell and Penny, loc. cit.).
Originally at the Villa Medici, the marble was transferred to Florence in 1677, and by 1688 had taken pride of place in the Tribuna of the Uffizi. When Napoleon's armies were threatening Italy, it was among the treasures moved to the south of Italy for safety, but it was eventually claimed by the French and was shipped to Paris where it remained between 1803 and 1815. After Napoleon's defeat, it was returned to the Tribuna, where it remains today.
Certainly from the time of its inclusion in Perrier's engravings of 1638 (see lot 123), the antique marble was widely admired, and numerous versions were produced in marble, lead, terracotta, and bronze, among other media. The present lot, which is notable for its rich patination and the delicate finishing of the hair and eyes, dates from the late 17th or early 18th century; the slightly exaggerated contrapposto of the present bronze when compared to the antique original probably reflects the baroque interest in movement and rhythm.