Compare the Hellenistic period Venus de Milo (c. 125-100 BCE) and Praxiteles’ Late Classical Aphrodite

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Praxiteles' Late Classical Venus of Knidos is widely considered among the first life-size nude sculptures of the female body. It is a sculpture (like many from antiquity) which survives only as a Roman copy. Successors of this sculptural type have been nicknamed "Venus Pudica" for her demure pose that covers her genitalia but reveals her modestly-proportioned breasts. The Venus of Knidos was sculpted by revered Athenian sculptor Praxiteles, who was experienced in rendering the male nude (e.g. Hermes with the infant Dionysus). The sculpture was intended as a cult statue for the Temple of Aphrodite at Knidos, located in modern southwestern Turkey.

The Venus de Milo (by Alexandros of Antioch, now displayed in the Louvre) was carved several hundred years later (in the second century BC). The statue was found in the vicinity of an ancient theater on the island of Milos. This Venus has a robe covering her lower half and genitalia. Her arms are missing, and she is thought to be depicted immediately before getting into the bath. This creates a moment of anticipation that the viewer can appreciate, as though he or she happens upon the unwitting goddess. Her gaze is also directly ahead, as contrasted to the Venus of Knidos, who looks to her side. This could be an assertive gaze, or, alternatively, it could mean that the goddess is taken by surprise.

It is important to remark that both statues are very progressive for their unapologetic and realistic display of the female nude. The venerated goddess is shown in both cases with ideal human proportions that remains as attractive now as in antiquity.

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