Orfeo Boselli

Crouching Venus

Artwork Detail

Orfeo Boselli specialised in restoring ancient Roman sculptures and worked for illustrious Roman families who owned impressive collections of antiquities. Before the late 18th century it was standard that ancient fragments be ‘completed’ by adding heads, arms or legs created by a contemporary sculptor. Boselli believed that such restoration work was necessary and in 1657 published the treatise 'Osservationi della scoltura antica' (Observations on Ancient Sculpture), which provided guidelines on how to repair ancient sculptures. 'Crouching Venus' is based on a Hellenistic (3rd–1st centuries BC) statue of Venus surprised at her bath. Crouching, her right arm was originally bent in front of her body, her left arm rested on her left leg, and her head twisted towards her right shoulder. Many copies of the statue were excavated from ancient Roman sites in Italy and France, suggesting that this was a popular sculptural subject in antiquity. Copies entered the collections of noble Italian families from the 15th century onwards. This statue is most likely a 17th-century copy made by Boselli. Venus’s hands and head were lost at some point in the last century.

Crouching Venus
Orfeo Boselli
Production date
17th century
Credit line
Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, gift of Moss Davis, 1932
Accession no
No known copyright restrictions
International Art
Display status
Not on display

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