In Ancient Greek and Roman mythology dolphins were associated with the sea and with the sphere of sensual love, bearing an amatory symbolism. Because of the assonance between the ancient Greek word delphis, δελφίς, meaning dolphin, and the word delphus, δελφύς, meaning womb, dolphins were considered animals sacred to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, fertility and desire. The iconography of Eros or a Putto riding a dolphin, would have been perceived by the contemporaries as an allegory of love. Despite the fragmentary condition of this sculpture, the position of the goddess’ feet and the presence of the Putto riding a dolphin, might link the composition with the famous Borghese Venus, now exhibited at the Louvre in Paris, which was a Roman copy of the Greek Aphrodite of Knidos, sculpted by Praxiteles in the 4th century BC.
Exquisite Marble Fragment of the Roman Goddess Venus with Putto and Dolphin
A superb Ancient Roman fragment of a marble statue depicting the Roman goddess Venus, known in Ancient Greek culture as Aphrodite. The fragment comprises the remains of the goddess’ left foot and lower left leg and some scarce remains of her right foot, both resting on an oval base. Her delicate left leg has been rendered in an exquisite naturalistic manner and appears flanked by a small Putto shown riding a dolphin with fragments of a second Putto just above. Both the Putto and the dolphin are classical attributes of Venus. The fragment would have been part of a larger composition, possibly depicting the goddess in her classical stance, nude and emerging from the sea.
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Provenance: Provenance: From the Liechti Collection, Geneve, pre-1970.
Condition: Despite being a fragment, the piece displays extremely fine and stable condition. Beautiful colour of the marble. A truly exquisite specimen of Roman sculpture.