On view at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston through February 20, 2012, Aphrodite and the Gods of Love. is the first museum exhibition of classical works devoted solely to Aphrodite. Known as Venus to the Romans, the show celebrates her likeness as the first female nude in western art history. Now that the holiday season is over, all of us can switch gears to questions of love and romance, and what better way than meditating on Aphrodite herself? Featuring160 works from the MFA’s Greek and Roman collection, the exhibition also includes 13—9 of which are from Rome and Naples—including Sleeping Hermaphrodite, which has left Italy only once prior to this show.
In addition to celebrating the goddess’s legacy as an icon of romantic love and ideal beauty, the exhibition examines her more complicated nature as a powerful deity who influenced the daily lives of mortals. It also traces the first depiction of the female nude back to the Knidia, a life-size sculpture of Aphrodite made by the great 4th-century BC artist, Praxiteles, for her temple at Knidos, a Greek city in Asia Minor.
“We are exceptionally fortunate to have the quality and depth of collection to offer this first-ever survey of Aphrodite, which draws largely from our own holdings and is complemented by generous loans from Italy,” said Christine Kondoleon, the MFA’s George and Margo Behrakis Senior Curator of Greek and Roman Art, who organized the exhibition. “I am proud that the MFA will host the goddess’s US debut, and I fully expect she will attract many new devotees.”
So head on over to the MFA and behold the mighty Aphrodite.