Height: 30.300 cm
Bequeathed by Richard Payne-Knight
GR 1824.4-28.1 (Bronze 279)
Room 70: Roman Empire
Bronze statuette of Venus or her mother, Dione
Roman, Probably 2nd century AD
Found near Paramythia in Epirus, Greece
In 1791-92 some Albanian peasants found an extraordinary group of nineteen bronze statuettes near Paramythia in Epirus, north-west Greece. The bronzes were deities, including a Lar or household god, and may originally have come from a domestic shrine in a rich Roman house. The statuettes were made in the Roman period, probably around the middle of the second century AD, but copy Classical and Hellenistic Greek sculptures on a larger scale.
This figure shows Venus, the Roman goddess of love, or perhaps her mother Dione, with sensuously flowing drapery and long, sinuous locks of hair. The dove on her head makes a pleasing head-dress. She originally had an attachment of some kind across her hips, perhaps additonal drapery, for which the holes remain. The original statue on which this miniature version was based probably dated to the first century BC.
Most of the statuettes went to St Petersburg, and were dispersed after the death of Empress Catherine of Russia. Twelve were bought by the collector Richard Payne-Knight, who bequeathed them to the British Museum in 1824. Two more were given by the widow of the antiquary John Hawkins in 1904. The present whereabouts of the other five is unknown.
J. Swaddling, 'The British Museum hoard from Paramythia, north-western Greece: classical trends revived in the 2nd and 18th centuries AD' in Bronzes hellenistiques et roma (Lausanne, Diffusion De Boccard, 1979)
C. Rolley, Greek bronzes (London, Sotheby's Publications / Chesterman Publications, 1986)