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Exhibit Catalog to the Morris County Historical Society's "Out of the Closet" Exhibition

Venus Pudica

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Artist unknown
Venus Pudica
Circa 19th century
Marble sculpture
26 1/2 in. (with base)
 

"Venus Pudica"
 
Here we find Venus, the goddess of sexual love, in a "pudica" pose - meaning that she covers her nude body with her hands or a piece of drapery. The implication is that she just discovered someone spying on her in the bath, and has hastily covered herself up in as modest a fashion as possible. This Classical pose exudes eroticism as well as virtuous modesty; while trying to cover herself up, Venus calls attention to her nude body and the fact that she is still partially exposed.
 
By virtue of being a "Venus Pudica," this Venus sculpture begs the viewer to become involved in its story. Venus's bath has been invaded by an unknown person - perhaps it is the viewer, as Venus stands alone and is not part of a larger figural group. Her reaction to the outside intruder connects the sculpture's space with that of our own. And the fact that Venus's body twists in such a way that we must walk around it to view all angles brings us even further into the world of the sculpture.