Art‎ > ‎

Aphrodite of Knidos


350-330 BC


Original in circular temple in Knidos.

Copy from Hadrian’s Villa, Tivoli.






Roman marble copy of Greek marble original.

Subject Matter

Aphrodite bathing. This is not gratuitous nudity as there is a reason for it, however it is still rather voyeuristic.


Long wavy hair, worn up on the head.

Voluptuous, curvaceous body, big hips, thighs etc.

Much softer, smoother physique than her male counter parts.

Pattern and Proportion

Sources of pattern: hair, armlet on let arm.

Swirly pattern on the hydria.

Drapery over the water jar.

Head to body ratio is 1:7 ½ (Praxitelean proportions).

Pose and Realism

Relaxed pose – weight on the right leg.

First definite use of contrapposto on a female statue.

Head is tilted down and to the left – the viewer is forced to move up to the right to make eye contact with her.

Her left arm leans casually on the hydria whilst her right arm rather ineffectually tries to cover her crotch.

Trailing leg like Polykleitos – moved across right leg in an attempt to cover her crotch.

Showing embarrassment at being disturbed.


Aphrodite is naked apart from her headband and armlet.

Drapery on the hydria softens its rigid outlines (as on Hermes and Dionysus).


Aphrodite’s body language implies embarrassment but not her face; is she half expecting us?

Viewer is supposed to feel voyeuristic – we have caught Aphrodite in a private moment,

The statue is supposed to be sexy – Praxiteles’ mistress, the hetaira Phryne, supposedly served as the model.