Crouching Venus thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 143, The Timothy Sainsbury Gallery

Crouching Venus

Figure
ca. 1750 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Firing such a large porcelain sculpture is hazardous, as the clay has to be thick enough to support the overall weight of the figure. Here the clay’s thickness has made it expand unevenly in the kiln, resulting in large cracks. The figure has also slumped, as it needed greater support during the early phases of firing, when clay initially softens.


object details
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Porcelain, press-moulded in sections
Brief Description
C
Physical Description
Figure, crouching Venus
Dimensions
  • Height: 41.2cm
  • Width: 24.7cm
  • Diameter: 17.8cm
Object history
The model is based on an antique marble statue in the Uffizi, Florence.
Summary
Firing such a large porcelain sculpture is hazardous, as the clay has to be thick enough to support the overall weight of the figure. Here the clay’s thickness has made it expand unevenly in the kiln, resulting in large cracks. The figure has also slumped, as it needed greater support during the early phases of firing, when clay initially softens.
Bibliographic References
  • Kräftner, J. Baroque Luxury Porcelain: The Manufacturers of Du Paquier in Vienna and of Carlo Ginori in Florence , Liechtenstein Museum, 2005, p.398
  • Francis Haskell and Nicholas Penny, Taste and the Antique, The Lure of Classical Sculpture 1500-1900 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981), pp. 321-323
  • Frescobaldi Malenchini, Livia ed. With Balleri, Rita and Rucellai, Oliva, ‘Amici di Doccia Quaderni, Numero VII, 2013, The Victoria and Albert Museum Collection’, Edizioni Polistampa, Firenze, 2014pp. 24-27, Cat. 33. Crouching Venus circa 1750 hard-paste porcelain h 41,2 cm; width 24,7 cm no mark inv. 5423-1859 purchase: £ 5 Bibliography: J.Winter, in BAROQUE LUXURY PORCELAIN 2005, p. 398-399, cat. 253 When this sculpture was bought by the Victoria & Albert Museum in 1859 (see Reino Liefkes in this volume p. 13), it stood on a tall wooden base supported by figures and supports made of porcelain. It is described in the Register books as “seated on a shell, on an ebony stand with porcelain terminal figures at the angles and bracket ornaments on the sides”. These white porcelain mounts, four putti term figures (cat. 4) and ten scroll work uprights (cat. 5) still survive. Sadly the wooden base was removed as it was assumed to be a later addition, whereas, in all probability, it may well have been the original manufactory base. The firing damage is extensive, particularly a large crack on the back, and also the partial collapse of the central section of the body, which has resulted in apparently slightly awkward modelling of Venus’s stomach and right side. This, and the unusual slightly cream-coloured glaze, suggest that the figure was made in the early years of the manufactory’s production, around 1750. A similar glaze is found on only a few other pieces of early Doccia porcelain sculpture Such as the Venus and Cupid group at Corsham Court, near Bath (WINTER 2003, p. 23, fig. 19). It perhaps reflects attempts to improve the greyish-white colour, typical of the early production at the manufactory, which had come in for some criticism from Ginori’s contemporaries. The figure is a copy of the marble original of the Crouching Venus in the Uffizi (MANSUELLI 1958-1961, vol. I, p. 83ff), now considered to be a much-restored Roman copy of an Hellenistic original and often known as the Aphrodite of Doidalses. In the 18th century, this was referred to variously as the Venere nella Conchiglia, Venere della Conchiglia and Venerenel Bagno. The Uffizi statue, formerly in the Villa Medici in Rome (at least by 1670), was transferred to Florence between 1780 and 1788. Though other antique versions are known, it would almost certainly have been this original from which the V&A porcelain was taken, although the Uffizi marble measures 78 cm height, almost twice the size of the porcelain reproduction. In November 1746, Niccola Kindermann and Gaetano Traballesi were paid for taking the mould of a Venerina (AGL,Libro contabile 1746- 1749, 1746, fol. 202v). Andreina d’Agliano assumed this was for a smaller version of the Medici Venus (A. d’Agliano, in LE SCULTURE DEL MARCHESE GINORI 2003, p. 40, cat. 4), but quite possibly it applies to the Crouching Venus, although it should be remembered that the Uffizi figure was at that time still in Rome. The Aphrodite of Doidalseswas a favourite model for bronze statuettes and much copied from the time of Giambologna onwards (HASKELL, PENNY 1981, p. 321-323). The figure is referred to in both the Inventory of Models (AGL, Inventario dei Modelli 1791-1806 about, p. 6, n. 18, mould in four sections; p. 11, n. 11, mould in six sections).The two sets of moulds suggest that the figure could be reproduced in different sizes. A smaller example at the Museo di Doccia is a small, relatively modern biscuit replica. The V&A example appears to be the only large-size version known. On the history of the acquisition of the Crouching Venus see Reino Liefkes in this catalogue, p. 13. Other putti term figures exist: for example one at the Fitzwilliam Museum (C.3221-1928) and two at the Castello Sforzesco (LISE 1975, cat. 88; L. Melegati, in LE PORCELLANE EUROPEE AL CASTELLO SFORZESCO 1999, p. 77).The only one coloured version I know of is in the Cagnola Collection in Gazzada. The plaster cast for the Venus is still preserved at Museo di Doccia (R. Balleri, in OMAGGIO A VENERE 2010, p. 27-29). A biscuit figure of the Aphrodite of Doidalses is at the Stibbert Museum (h32 cm), with the “N” crowned mark underglazed and imprinted “Venere della Conchiglia in Firenze, M”, dated about 1870-1880 (A. d’Agliano, in PORCELLANE DI FRIEDERICK STIBBERT 2002, p. 80, cat. 31 and plate 17).
Collection
Accession Number
5423-1859

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

record createdMarch 9, 2006
Record URL