Aphrodite of Arles

Classical Greek 

replica: from the Louvre, Paris

gift of: Turhan Okeren

date of the original: 4th century BC  

provenance of the original: found in 1651 in the area of the Roman theatre of Arles, France; now in the Louvre, Paris

description: Standing, partially draped figure of Aphrodite. Round object in right hand, which is raised, handle of mirror in her left. Plaster replica; marble original. Height 210 cm, width 95 cm, depth 51 cm.

The Aphrodite of Arles is a Hellenistic copy of a prototype attributed to Praxiteles (see also: Hermes and the Infant DionysusApollo LykeiosAphrodite of Cnidos), hence its fourth century date. A reference in Pliny the Elder may refer to the original of this work--the first known statue of the goddess with the upper body naked. This Aphrodite recalls the form of the Aphrodite of Cnidos and is a heavier, less refined ancestress of the Aphrodite of Melos (see also: Aphrodite AnadyomeneCrouching Aphrodite).

The head of the original was found broken from the torso and the arms were missing. It was restored by the French sculptor François Girardon, who was commissioned by King Louis XIV (see also:Hannibal). Girardon gave the statue a mirror in the left hand and an apple in the right, which may not have been part of the original at all, but catered rather to royal preferences. The mirror is a traditional sculptural device meant to illustrate Aphrodite’s attribute as the goddess of beauty, while the apple represents the “Apple of Discord”, the catalyst which triggered the Trojan War of Homeric epic.