Chaste Aphrodite Analysis

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The Chaste Aphrodite on display at the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden is a largely destroyed sculpture of the Greek Goddess of Love and Beauty, Aphrodite. What remains of this marble Roman copy of the Hellenistic original that was originally produced in 3rd-2nd century BCE, is a sculpture of the torso with exposed breasts and pubic area. Even though the head and lower arms and legs are missing, it is evident that from the way Aphrodite’s waist bends, the sculpture originally utilized a contrapposto position, in which a standing human figure is poised in such a way that most of its weight rests upon one leg, freeing the other leg and causing a bend at the knee. Because of this weight shift, this causes the upper body and head to tilt at an angle,…show more content…
Hellenistic sculptures differed from those of the Classical period in the respect that they were more expressive and incited emotion. Furthermore, a greater emphasis on naturalism meant that the young men exemplified with perfect bodies in Archaic and Classical sculptures were no longer ideal. These concepts are illustrated in both the Chaste Aphrodite and the head of Aphrodite, another featured object in the Hellenistic section. The head of Aphrodite, which was also modeled in the style of Praxiteles, has a “smoothly modeled face. The marble was polished to a high sheen and resembles beautiful, silky skin...the near-omission of the lower eyelids gives the face a dreamy expression, and contrast between the smooth skin and the rougher hair is remarkable” (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden). There is a clear deviation from the practice of sculpting the idealistic structured body common to the Classical period. Hellenistic sculptures embraced both the idiosyncrasies and imperfections of the subject matter in order to achieve a higher degree of realism. Ignoring the hard, chiseled form typical to the Classical period, Praxiteles’ modeling of soft flesh creates a sensuous and sentimental effect, emotions that play well with a subject matter like Aphrodite. His attention to detail has made Aphrodite the perfect embodiment of female beauty and sexuality, as it has been said that the sculpture was so lifelike, it aroused men and caused them to physically embrace the sculpture. This manipulation of texture to create a highly realistic resemblance to human flesh to create elegance and sophistication is a Hellenistic innovation, and is exemplified well in this section of the

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