With its depiction of Venus, the goddess of love, crouching in her bath, this damaged statuette is a copy of an original large-scale sculpture dating to the 100s B.C., probably by Doidalsas of Bithynia. The goddess crouches low in order to allow an attendant, who is not depicted, to pour water over her. The original statue showed the interest of Hellenistic sculptors in rendering the nude female form.
While the earlier statue does not survive, later copies such as this piece preserve its general appearance. These copies were especially popular in the Roman period, with artists reproducing the original in large numbers in a variety of media and sizes and with slight variations of pose. Roman patrons often commissioned miniature copies of large-scale Greek public art for their private use, decorating their homes with the statuettes. The use of the valuable medium of rock crystal marks this piece as a prestigious luxury item for a rich patron.
"The cloud was rising from a mountain…[we] learned afterwards that it was Vesuvius… It rose into the sky on a long trunk, from which spread several branches. I imagine it had been raised by a sudden blast, which then weakened, leaving the cloud unsupported so that its own weight caused it to spread sideways.
"It was daylight now elsewhere in the world, but there the darkness was darker and thicker than any night… Then came the sulphur, announcing the flames, and the flames themselves… daylight came two days after…"
- Pliny the Younger, Letters 6.16
[Vesuvius fresco from the House of the Centenary : http://tinyurl.com/kqug87v]
[Pierre-Jacques Volaire’s Eruption of Mount Vesuvius: http://tinyurl.com/koyltcv]
[Plaster cast of dog : http://tinyurl.com/k6r4aof]
[Skeletons from Herculaneum : http://tinyurl.com/km67x8b]
[View over Bay of Naples towards Vesuvius : Personal]
“… Mother Nature is punishing us, …, for our greed and selfishness. We torture her at all hours by iron and wood, fire and stone. We dig her up and dump her in the sea. We sink mine shafts into her and drag out her entrails - and all for a jewel to wear on a pretty finer. Who can blame her if she occasionally quivers with anger?” - Pliny, The younger