This delicate head of the goddess shows the distinctive bowknot coiffure associated with the so-called Aphrodite Capitoline type, a lost Hellenistic prototype obviously famous in antiquity since it is preserved...
This delicate head of the goddess shows the distinctive bowknot coiffure associated with the so-called Aphrodite Capitoline type, a lost Hellenistic prototype obviously famous in antiquity since it is preserved in over 100 replicas in marble as well as many more adaptations including countless bronze statuettes. The long wavy hair of the goddess is arranged in a prominent topknot over the forehead and a second knot low on the back of the head. A fillet encircles the head.
The Aphrodite Capitoline type has been attributed to Asia Minor on the basis of the distribution of several copies and numismatic representations of the Roman period. Dates for the sculptural prototype, presumably in bronze, have ranged widely but it seems safe to assign it to the late 3rd century BC.
The present sculpture is not an exact Roman copy of the Capitoline type but instead seems best described as a Greek original of the late 3rd or 2nd century BC, roughly contemporary to the prototype of the Capitoline Aphrodite. The overall lack of drill work in our head imparts the sculpture with a freshness associated with Greek original works rather than with mechanical Roman copies of the early Imperial period.
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For the Capitoline Aphrodite type, see especially:
M. Bieber, The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age (Revised Edition, New York 1961) 20-21, 26, and figs. 34 – 35.
B.S. Ridgway, Hellenistic Sculpture I: The Styles of ca. 331 – 200 B.C. (University of Wisconsin Press 1990) 354 – 356 and pl. 181.
On the various Hellenistic nude Aphrodites, see the summary in R.R.R. Smith, Hellenistic Sculpture (London 1991) 81 – 83, with illustrations and references.
C. Kondoleon, Aphrodite and the Gods of Love (Boston Museum of Fine Arts Exhibition Catalogue 2011) 175, 205 no. 128 for a head of Aphrodite Capitoline type, and the general discussion of the goddess throughout this publication.