Cover image for The Aphrodite of Knidos and her successors : a historical review of the female nude in Greek art
The Aphrodite of Knidos and her successors : a historical review of the female nude in Greek art
Havelock, Christine Mitchell.
Publication Information:
Ann Arbor : University of Michigan Press, [1995]

Physical Description:
xii, 158 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 26 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
NB163.V62 C575 1995 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Christine Mitchell Havelock's book takes a much- needed new look at some of the most famous icons of Western art: the nude statues that the Greeks produced to represent Aphrodite. The Aphrodite of Knidos, by master sculptor Praxiteles, is the leading example of this form. Other statues include the Capitoline and Medici Venuses, the Crouching Aphrodite and the Aphrodite of Melos--all of them indebted to Praxiteles. The author analyzes the meaning of the pose of the Aphrodite of Knidos, the significance of her nudity, and her architectural setting. A survey of the statue's reception and interpretation in Greek, Roman, and modern times offers an entirely new perspective on this major work of art. Among topics examined are Praxiteles' reported use of his mistress Phryne as his model, the pudica gesture, and the importance of small-scale versions of statues for dating the larger sculptures. The author also considers the function and religious significance of the small statues, and she includes the cultural context offered by the erotic poetry of Propertius and Ovid, two Roman poets who were fascinated by the robing and disrobing of their mistresses. The Aphrodite of Knidos is a highly readable, broad-based volume of interest to anyone familiar with classical art and the ancient world. Christine Mitchell Havelock is Professor Emerita of Art History and Curator of the Classical Art Collection at Vassar College. She has written and lectured widely on Greek art.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Havelock is to be tributed, as a much respected female professor emeritus of classical studies at Vassar, for disrobing Praxiteles' Aphrodite of Knidos of her 19-century guilty ambience. During an astute survey of current and old, German and English scholarship, Havelock dismisses the issues of what the original could have been like, and who the model might have been. The result is a great boost for femininity: if, for Greeks, beautiful nudity is a sincere representation of the godliness of male sexuality, the same is said by this lovely female nude and her successors. Current adulation of the semiotic Venus of Willendorf sounds humorous in contrast to this frank acceptance of the many picturesque spin-offs of the fourth-century religious piece. Even seeing the more direct appeal to the prurient of later Greco-Roman variations of the goddess, Havelock focuses on the still-intended sacredness. She believes that this reverent attitude, fostered by Praxiteles' ground-breaking monumental nude holy image, brought--to later courtesans and wives alike--self-respect and financial independence. All students of the classical and womanhood in general will enjoy this book--if they can take a little titillation. General; undergraduate through professional. E. L. Anderson; Lansing Community College