The Crouching Venus at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London

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Some time ago I wrote about “A crouching Aphrodite in London“, a sculpure I saw at the British Museum. It is Roman, 2nd century AD; a version of an original from Hellenistic Greece.

Crouching Aphrodite, British Museum. London
Crouching Aphrodite, British Museum. London

Today I want to introduce “The crouching Venus” (1702) of John Nost the Elder, which I saw at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Crouching Venus, V&A Museum, London
Crouching Venus, V&A Museum, London

I quote form the Museum’s website:

“The Crouching Venus is a remarkable instance of John Nost the Elder’s assured carving, and is a rare surviving example of a classical subject by the artist in marble. The sculpture’s scale and accomplishment give it a grandeur and presence which were truly exceptional at that date in Britain. Like the antique prototype, Venus is depicted ineffectually attempting to cover her nakedness, her gesture only succeeding in drawing attention to her sensual body. The goddess is thought to be bathing, or possibly adjusting her hair, and caught unawares. Nost’s sculpture suggests the sophisticated level of patronage of the wealthy gentry in Britain at the start of the eighteenth century, and tantalisingly evokes the way in which interiors of eighteenth-century country houses were adorned with sculpture.”

Crouching Venus - detail
Crouching Venus – detail

I must confess that I did not know of the artist before I saw the crouching Venus.

What attracted my attention to it was that it looked very similar to the crouching Aphrodite I Saw at the British Museum. As a matter of fact, it seemed to me that it was a copy of the Roman-Hellenistic sculpture.

(Quite interestingly, there is no mention of such likeness in the V&A description.)

Crouching Aphrodite - detail
Crouching Aphrodite – detail

Let us start from the left arm and the band around it.

Crouching Venus - detail
Crouching Venus – detail

The head is the next area of examination.

Crouching Aphrodite - detail
Crouching Aphrodite – detail

The face, the hair style and the expression are the same. However, Aphrodite turns to her far left her face and looks down, while Venus just turns and looks straight.

Also, Venus clinches loosely her right fist, while Aphodite’s right hand’s fingers are straight.

Crouching Venus - detail
Crouching Venus – detail

Venus is slightly slimmer than Aphrodite.

Crouching Aphrodite - detail
Crouching Aphrodite – detail

Aphrodite’s figure is sumptuous.

Let us now have a look at the left hand.

Crouchnig Venus - detail
Crouchnig Venus – detail

The hand in both sculptures is “locked” between the thigh and the elbow.

Crouching Aphrodite - detail
Crouching Aphrodite – detail

The only difference appears to be the angle to the thigh and the fingers. One should point out though that quite obviously, Aphrodite’s fingers are reconstructed, as they were broken in the sculpture’s journey through the centuries.

Finally, the back side.

Crouching Venus - detail
Crouching Venus – detail

This may be the final and concluding observation regarding the hypothesis that the V&A Venus is a copy of the British Museum Aphrodite.

Crouching Aphrodite - detail
Crouching Aphrodite – detail

The posture of the body, the support of the jug, the tension of the muscles.

It seems that Venus is a copy of Aphrodite after all! 

Which of the two do I like best?