Praxiteles blends humanity with divinity perfectly, portraying her divinity without being distanced by grandeur.

Praxiteles’ Aphrodite of Knidos

Praxiteles is one of the most celebrated of the Attic sculptors, and although very few facts about his life are certain, it is known that he was from Athens and his father, Kephisodotus, was believed to be another renowned Attic sculptor. All of his work is estimated to date from the second half of the 4th century B.C.

c. 360-330 BCE

Although the original is lost, a great number of Roman copies were produced, some of which survive and are able to show us what the original was like. Praxiteles uses in this statue the ideas of contrapposto that were first seen in the works of Polykleitos, with the slant of the statue’s hips contrasting that of her shoulders. Contrapposto is used to create a sense of equilibrium, but in this case Praxiteles also uses it to further the sensuousness of the figure. The sculpture as a whole has a feeling of serenity and calm, as the goddess is preparing to bathe and modestly covering herself with her right hand. Her head, however, looks sharply to the left, giving us the impression that she has been disturbed. This creates a relationship with the viewer, as though the viewer is glimpsing something they should not. A clear advancement in Praxiteles’ use of marble is seen in his creative use of a prop. In order to allow such sweeping composition to the figure, it needs to be supported, but instead of merely propping the figure up, Praxiteles incorporates it into the design. The clothes she has removed hang down from her hand onto the hydria full of her bathing water. Furthermore, the fact that Aphrodite is holding up the drapery, means any sense that it is in fact supporting her is lost. By placing Aphrodite in such an everyday situation, Praxiteles is creating a much more accessible and humanizing view of the goddess.

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yazıköy | muğla province | modern turkey

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