Statue of Aphrodite or a Roman lady

Imperial Period
about mid-1st century A.D.

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 182; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 112 (additional published references); Highlights: Classical Art (MFA), p. 166.


Overall: 150.5 x 58.4 x 53.3 cm, 426.38 kg (59 1/4 x 23 x 21 in., 940 lb.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble from Carrara in northwest Italy

On View

Classical Roman Gallery (Gallery 213)


The Ancient World



The plinth is broken away in front of the right foot. The right arm and right shoulder were made separately and attached with a large pin or clamp. The drapery is chipped. The surfaces are incrusted and have a yellowish patina.
Head and neck were made separately and inserted into the body, a common practice when this Aphrodite of about 420 B.C. was adapted as a portrait of a Roman empress or lady of fashion. Most of the right arm and hand holding up the end of the himation is also missing, as are the left hand (holding the golden apple) and wrist. The goddess wore a himation, fastened on the right shoulder and arranged so as to fall in columnar fashion behind and cling suggestively to the body in front. Since many copies do not have the chiton covering the left breast, this variation must have been introduced by copyists when the statue was turned into a Roman portrait, to satisfy the sitter’s modesty. The goddess, or lady as such, wears sandals. The rectangular plinth has suffered visible damage.

Venus Genetrix type.

Scientific Analysis:
Harvard Lab No. HI755: Isotope ratios - delta13C +2.17 / delta18O -1.88, Attribution - Carrara, Justification - Fine grained marble.


Date unknown: said to have been found at Tivoli (according to a letter from J. D. Beazley); dates unknown: with a dealer in Italy who received official permission to export the statue and then with a dealer in Paris; by 1930: with Societa Anonima, A.D.A.C, Ltd., 7 Via Duca d'Aosta, Florence; purchased from Societa Anonima A.D.A.C, Ltd. through Carlo M. Girard and Franklin Picciolo, Florence by Edward Jackson Holmes and Museum of Fine Arts, August 7, 1930, for $ 27,693.71; according to notes from the August 7, 1930 meeting of the Committee on the Museum, the statue was purchased from Girard, Inc. for $ 25,000.00 plus expenses of examination in London, transportation, insurance, etc. The credit line is: Museum purchase as a memorial to Mrs. W. Scott Fitz with funds from the Henrietta Goddard Fitz Fund and Edward Jackson Holmes

Credit Line

Museum purchase as a memorial to Mrs. W. Scott Fitz with funds from the Henrietta Goddard Fitz Fund and Edward Jackson Holmes