Unknown (Italian, 19th century?)
Venus de’Medici (replica)
Marble, c. 99 cm (3’3”) high
Presented by the family of James Purves, 1878; de-accessioned, 1943
Present location unknown

[photo: this figure as visible in photograph of Melbourne’s Picture Gallery, 1872 (SLV H96.160/1793)]

This statue and * Giambologna [after] Rape of the Sabines {1878} Loc? [SC] are both documented as donated to the Melbourne collection after the death of early Victorian colonist James Purves (1814-78): see linked donor entry for details. In each case, though, early 1870s views of the collection indicate that both statues were already in the gallery before 1878. The Venus is clearly recognizable in the background of one of the 1872 photos of the MPL’s temporary Picture Gallery: see detail reproduced here.

This was a reduced-scale replica of the Uffizi original, a 1st-century BC Roman copy of the Cnidian Venus of Praxitiles, first recorded in 1638, and widely admired during the 18th and 19th centuries; Haskell and Penny describe it as “one of the most copied sculptures of all time.” There was also a plaster cast of the statue in Melbourne. The pose was often adapted; for an example, see * Halse Advance, Australia 1865 {1891} Loc? [SC].



AR 1878, p.51; SB p.67 (Statues), including a note of the official de-acquisition in 1943;  NGV 1880, p.2 (under ‘Statuettes’; as measuring 3’3” high, equating to just under a metre);  NGV 1894, p.132 (VI.Rotunda, no.37; NGV 1905, p.154 (VI.Sculpture, no.3)

The present work was sold in the 1943 auction of NGV sculpture for £40. For the plaster cast formerly in Melbourne, see Casts – I.Statues etc. (I.107). For the Uffizi statue, which is 1.53 m high, see Haskell & Penny Taste and the Antique (1981), cat.no.89 and fig.174