According to the primal Greek myth recounted in Hesiod’s Theogony (genealogy of the gods), Aphrodite, the goddess of love, was born of the aphros, the foam created when Kronos threw the genitals of his father, Uranos (Heaven), into the sea. The impregnated foam floated first to Kythera, then across the Mediterranean to Cyprus, where the goddess was born as she stepped ashore fully grown. Reflecting this aqueous origin, Aphrodite is frequently depicted in relation to water—bathing, or drying herself after her bath, sometimes accompanied by a seashell or dolphin.
Aphrodite was a highly popular subject in Greek art. The most famous sculptural representation—by Praxiteles in the fourth century B.C., showing the goddess unrobing to bathe—established the first ideal of nude female beauty that could stand alongside the canon of the athletic male. The theme of Aphrodite crouching in her bath also enjoyed great popularity and was the subject of numerous sculptures known from ancient authors and Roman copies. The Kimbell version, one of many variations on a famous Hellenistic original, embodies the qualities of beauty and voluptuous sensuality that characterize the goddess of love. She was shown crouching to bathe, her head turned sharply to the right, her left arm brought across the body to touch the right thigh, her right arm held up to near the left breast and shoulder. The somewhat spiral effect of her stance appealed to the Hellenistic taste for animated poses that embrace and engage with the space around them.
(Charles Lipson, Boston);
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1967.