Aphrodite on a Goose, three-quarter view from right

Aphrodite on a Goose, from slightly right of center

Aphrodite on a Goose, left profile

Aphrodite on a Goose, frontal view, torso

Aphrodite on a Goose, three-quarter view from left, detail

Aphrodite on a Goose, three-quarter view from left

Collection: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
Title: Aphrodite on a goose
Context: Probably from Athens
Findspot: Said to be found at Rome, near the Porta San Pancrazio
Summary: Aphrodite riding side-saddle on a goose
Object Function: Cult?
Material: Marble
Sculpture Type: Architectural?
Category: Perhaps from statuary group
Placement: Akroterion
Style: Late Classical
Technique: In-the-round
Original or Copy: Original
Date: ca. 340 BC - ca. 330 BC

H 0.675 m

Scale: Under life-size
Region: Latium
Period: Late Classical

Subject Description:

Aphrodite, seated side-saddle with her ankles crossed, rides on the back of a goose, whose neck she grabs with her left hand. Meanwhile she holds her right hand up to her himation, which billows over her head and behind her back, forming a shell that encloses her; the remaining mantle drapes luxuriantly across her lap and around her legs, and finally terminates in tear-drop corners, in front of the goose's body. Aphrodite's undergarment, a short-sleeved chiton (with buttons fastening the sleeves) is tied with a narrow belt just below her chest, and shoulder straps. Her hair is uncharacteristically short, but wavy.

Form & Style:

The high-girt costume, and voluminous, curving drapery indicate a late Classical date. The small head that contrasts with the fleshiness of the goddess (she has three lines, so-called 'Venus Rings,' on her neck) is also characteristic of this period .

Condition: Nearly complete

Condition Description:

Single piece, reworked on the underside. The goose's head is missing, and his right wing is broken off. Aphrodite is intact, however, missing only her right hand and the adjacent part of her veil, and her left foot (which may have been attached, or reattached, with a small metal dowel, as a hold ca. 3 mm. in diameter now exists in the broken part of her leg). Surface is otherwise in good condition, with some brownish-gray adhesions, and some chips on the Aphrodite's fingers.

Material Description: "Pentelic" (Comstock & Vermeule)

Collection History: Formerly in the Somsée (Somzée) Collection, and then the E.P. Warren Collection. Acquired by the MFA in 190

Other Notes:

The sculpture seems to have been was taken in antiquity to Italy, where it was reused as a fountain: a hole drilled through the goose's neck, seems to have served as a water channel.

Sources Used: Comstock & Vermeule 1976, no. 43

Other Bibliography: A. Schöne-Denkinger, AM 108 (1993) 158; Danner 1989, 32 no. 255; C. Davaras, ArchEph 1985 (1987) 153 n. 42; LIMC, 2.96, no. 903; K. Stäler, Boreas 6 (1983) 88, n. 15; Palagia 1982, 106, 108-109, n. 58; A. Pasquier, RA 1980, 201; Vermeule 1980, 9, 115, 145, fig. 4; Loeb 1979, 315, Aph. 56; H.B. Jessen, in Mélanges Mansel (Ankara 1974) 1.626, n. 16; L. Beschi, Annuario 50-51 (1972-1973) 491, n. 1; Kapossy 1969, 16