st agathas statue
St. Agatha's
  Crypt, Catacombs & Museum


'Maybe the most important item in this area is the statue of Aphrodite. It is a marbled statuette which can be said to be an exact replica of the one sculptured by the great Greek artist Praxiteles about 4th Century BC. This statuette was found while digging for an Air Raid shelter in the 1940s during the World War II, in old Melita which is today St. Joseph's Street in Rabat. It was donated by the late Miss Clorinda Bonello in 1985.' (Camilleri Fr. V. (M.S.S.P.), p.17) This statue is also known as the Aphrodite of Cnidos.

It is believed that the Aphrodite of Cnidos, created by Greek artist Praxiteles in the 4th Century BC, was the first statue to feature a life sized nude female. The residents of Kos commissioned an Aphrodite statue from the artist, who created fully clothed and nude versions of the piece. Kos chose the clothed version.The nude Aphrodite was bought by the residents of Knidos who put it in an open temple' (Epand, V.)

There are no records about its' existence anymore. Possibly the statue was removed to Constantinople (modern Istanbul) and was lost in a fire during the Nika riots. For a time in 1969, the archaeologist Iris Love thought she had found the only surviving fragments of the original statue, which are now in storage at the British Museum. The prevailing opinion of archaeologists is that the fragment in question is not of the Knidia, but of a different statue.
The original statue of "Aphrodite of Cnidus" probably represented the renowned beauty Phryne, the favourite of Praxiteles. Phryne was a peasant girl from Boeotia, very poor, but as she grew to womanhood her loveliness attracted all Athens and brought her lovers, renowned and great wealth and among her lovers was Praxiteles. (Munson Bryant, L., (1914), p.43)

Artists, throughout the ages have created works inspired by the original Aphrodite of Cnidus. Therefore, 'Numerous copies were made and from those we gather our evidence of what the original looked like.' (Epand, V.) It is said that the most faithful replica of the statue is the Colonna Venus conserved in the Museo Pio-Clementino, part of the collections of the Vatican Museums.



Camilleri Fr. V. (M.S.S.P.) (1994). St.Agatha's Museum. Malta

Epand, V., The Statue of Aphrodite of Cnidus. Retrieved from on June 17, 2010

Munson Bryant, L., (1914). What sculptures to see in Europe. Retrieved from on June 7, 2010.


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