About This Artwork

Roman

Statue of the Aphrodite of Knidos, 2nd century A.D.

Marble
168 x 57.2 x 42 cm (66 1/8 x 22 1/2 x 16 1/2 in.)

Katherine K. Adler Memorial Fund, 1981.11

This statue was inspired by the most famous Greek sculpture of a goddess, the Aphrodite of Knidos. Carved by the sculptor Praxiteles in the 4th century B.C. from fine marble, it enjoyed great renown as the first devotional statue of a female goddess in the nude. It produced an immediate sensation when it was installed in a sacred precinct on the island of Knidos, and, centuries later, it inspired Roman artists to re-create the celebrated image of the goddess. Although the earlier Greek sculpture no longer exists, Roman statues such as this inform us of its likely appearance. However, the function of these later Roman versions was fundamentally different from that of the earlier Greek work: what had once been an object of veneration among the Greeks became a favorite garden ornament for wealthy Romans. Adapted for such a use, the badly marred surface of the statue is the result of prolonged exposure to the elements.

— Permanent collection label


This work appears in the online catalogue Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago, featuring art historical essays and conservation reports on artworks from the ancient Roman world in the Art Institute’s collection. Entries include new high-resolution photography, stunning 360-degree views of the works, and in-depth technical imaging and analysis. The volume is free to the public.

Exhibition, Publication and Ownership Histories

Exhibition History

The Art Institute of Chicago, Rotating Permanent Collection, Gallery 143, February 21, 1991-1992.

Art Institute of Chicago, Classical Art from the Permanent Collection, Feb. 1989–Feb. 17, 1990, no cat.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Henry Crown Gallery (Allerton 200), 1981-1986.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Ancient Art Galleries, Gallery 156, April 20, 1994-February 6, 2012.

The Art Institute of Chicago, Of Gods and Glamour: The Mary and Michael Jaharis Galleries of Greek, Roman, and Byzantine Art, Gallery 152, November 11, 2012 - present.

Publication History

Katharine A. Raff, “Cat. 13 Statue of the Aphrodite of Knidos: Curatorial Entry,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).

Rachel C. Sabino, with contributions by Lorenzo Lazzarini, “Cat. 13 Statue of the Aphrodite of Knidos: Technical Report,” in Roman Art at the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 2016).

Karen B. Alexander, “From Plaster to Stone: Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago,” in Recasting the Past: Collecting and Presenting Antiquities at the Art Institute of Chicago, ed. Karen Manchester (Art Institute of Chicago, 2012), pp. 32; 39, n. 134.

Domnica Radulescu, Sisters of Medea: The Tragic Heroine across Cultures (University Press of the South, 2002), p. 4, fig. 1.

Art Institute of Chicago, Treasures from the Art Institute of Chicago, selected by James N. Wood, with commentaries by Debra N. Mancoff (Art Institute of Chicago, 2000), p. 73 (ill.).

Karen Alexander, “The New Galleries of Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago,” Minerva 5, 3 (May–June 1994), p. 33, fig. 11.

Cornelius C. Vermeule III, “Roman Art,” in “Ancient Art at the Art Institute of Chicago,” special issue, Art Institute of Chicago Museum Studies 20, 1 (1994), pp. 72–73, cat. 50 (ill.).

Art Institute of Chicago, Pocketguide to the Art Institute of Chicago (Art Institute of Chicago, 1988), p. 9, fig. 12.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Report of the Director,” Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report 1980–81 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1981), p. 7, fig. 6.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Departmental Reports,” Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report 1980–81 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1981), p. 14.

Art Institute of Chicago, “Acquisitions,” Art Institute of Chicago Annual Report 1980–81 (Art Institute of Chicago, 1981), p. 49.




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