Venus with a Burning Urn

Venus with a Burning Urn

c. 1500-1520

Gilt bronze

Overall: 19.6 x 6.3 x 4 cm (7 11/16 x 2 1/2 x 1 9/16 in.); with base: 28.6 x 7 x 7 cm (11 1/4 x 2 3/4 x 2 3/4 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 1948.171


Venus is the Roman goddess of many virtues, including Love, Charity, Fertility, and Victory. Here, Venus is represented as the goddess of Charity. She wears a crown, as Charity is often depicted as the Queen of the Virtues. The flaming lamp in Venus's left hand was also a symbol of Charity in Venice, where this piece is thought to have originated. The bent fingers of her right hand are bent suggest that Venus may have once held another object. Renaissance sculptors often looked back to antiquity when producing monumental and small bronze statues. The small bronze cabinet piece comes into Italian art during this time, bringing ancient gods and goddesses into Italian households. Venus stands in a contrapposto pose and, like Hellenistic and Roman objects, her locks are tied by a double ribbon while two curls fall on her shoulders. Her tilted head and large emotional eyes, as well as her small nose and parted lips reflect the influence of Hellenistic Greek facial styles.

See also
Type of artwork: 
Gilt bronze

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