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Antique F. Barbedienne Bronze ‘Vénus D’Arles’ Late 19th Century

Ferdinand Barbedienne

A late 19th century, French, bronze figure ‘Vénus D’Arles’. The semi clad figure of Venus standing with arms outstretched, holding it is thought, an apple in one hand & a mirror handle in the other, on a naturalistic base. The signature and inset seal to base, retaining the original ink inscriptions to the underside. Dark brown patination.

Barbedienne produced this model in 5 sizes according to their catalogue of 1886. This model is between the first two reductions measuring 70cm tall.

The original antique marble figure is housed in the Louvre museum. To the reverse the bronze retains a partial label ‘VENUS D’ARLES Le marbre antique est au musée du louvre’.

 Height 70cm

Width 31 cm

Depth 15.5cm

Circa 1890


The Venus of Arles was discovered in several pieces at the Roman theatre at Arles. The sculptural programme at Arles was executed in Italy, perhaps by Greek artisans. Venus was the divine ancestor of the gens Julia; Arles, which had backed Caesar when Massilia backed Pompey was rewarded in numerous ways. A semi-nude heroic statue of Augustus was the dominating figure in the sculptural program of the Arles theatre.

The Venus was found in 1651, by workmen who were digging a well. The head appeared first, at a depth of six feet, which spurred further excavations. Later, after it had been given in 1681 to Louis XIV to decorate the Hall of Mirrors of Versailles, further excavations were made in the area of the theatre’s scenae frons, but no further fragments were found. The statue was seized from the royal collection at the Revolution and has been housed at the Louvre Museum ever since, though it is not currently on display. A copy is on display in the municipal building in Arles.