Ancient Wonders of the Aegean: Venus de Milo, Milos

One of the most recognizable artworks from the ancient Greek world, the Venus de Milo is a masterclass in Hellenistic sculpture.

One of the most famous works of ancient Greek art, the Venus de Milo sculpture is widely believed to depict Aphrodite (Venus being her Roman counterpart), the goddess of love and beauty. Semi-nude and made of Parian marble, the larger than life statue stands at 204 cm and has been on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris since its rediscovery on the island of Milos in 1820.

Originally found in two large pieces and several fragments, the statue was first believed to be the work of Praxiteles, the Athenian sculptor of the 4th century BC renowned for his Aphrodite of Cnidus. Based on an inscription on the statue’s plinth, however, it now widely agreed to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch, sculpted sometime between 150 and 125 BC.


The Venus de Milo is iconic for its missing arms. A filled hole below her right breast would have originally contained a metal tenon, supporting a separately carved arm. The relaxed twisting composition of the statue is an archetypal example of the Hellenistic sculptural tradition.

Earlier nude studies of male figures, especially heroes, gods and even distinguished mortals, were common in Greek art. Praxiteles’ Aphrodite was the first time a female figure had been portrayed fully nude. Later, new poses and modeling were crafted by other artists, including Doidalsas’ mid-3rd century BC sculpture of Aphrodite crouching at her bath.

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