The Freud Museum

Figure of Aphrodite

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3929, Figure of Aphrodite, 3rd century BC

Artist: Photographer: Ardon Bar Hama
Culture: Greek Boeotian Tanagra
Material: Terracotta
Dimensions: 21.4 x 8.8 x 5.2 cm

Aphrodite stands confidently, her right arm leaning on a pillar, her left hand on her hip. She is naked to the waist, her himation, a robe worn by women, is tucked over her hips. She wears a polos, the headdress of a goddess. Traces of rose madder can be seen on her himation.

In the early 1870s, at Tanagra, a site in Boeotia in central Greece, thousands of similar figures were excavated, many from graves. The most common were standing female figures notable for their elegant drapery and casual stance. 'Tanagras', as they became known, were popular throughout Europe in the 19th century.

The Tanagra figures were a mould-cast type of terracotta made by Koroplasters, sculptors of the models that provided the moulds. Before firing, the figures were coated with a liquid white clay known as slip. After firing, they were brightly coloured in a naturalistic manner with water-soluble paints. 'Red was used for hair, lips, shoes, and accessories, and black marked eyebrows, eyes, and other details. The flesh was painted a pale orange pink, and a reddish purple made from rose madder often was used for the drapery. Blue was used sparingly, as the pigment was expensive.'

See this object on our Collections site here 

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