Hermitage - Venus of Tauride
In Hermitages Room 109 note the statue of the goddess of love and beauty known as the Venus of Tauride (3rd century B.C.; a.k.a Venus of Tauris), since it stood in the Tauride Palace of Prince Potyomkin for many years.
The statue’s anonymous sculptor embodied aesthetic ideals of his time in this work. The well-proportioned, softly modelled nude figure, the flowing silhouette and serene, restrained posture – all serve to emphasize the chastity of the sculptor’s concept of female beauty.
The statue was unearthed near Rome in 1718 and was subsequently acquired by Peter the Great in exchange for the holy relics of St. Brigitta. Its quite an interesting story. Peter’s art agent Yuri Kologrivov, who was an outstanding art expert, was quick to recognize the importance of the discovery and immediately bought the statue and ordered it be sent to St. Petersburg. In March 1719 he wrote to Peter, "... I bought an ancient statue of Venus."
But at that time there was a ban (imposed by the Pope) on exporting Romes ancient art. An examination confirmed the high artistic value of the sculpture, and the Vatican took over the treasure. To help Kologrivov, Peter sent the skillful diplomat Savva Raguzinsky and Beklemishev, the Russian Ambassador in Venice. They conveyed Peter’s offer to exchange the statue of Venus for the relics of St. Brigitte (moved to St. Petersburg from Revel after the city was taken from the Swedes). Vatican could not reject this offer and choose the image of the pagan goddess of love over the relics of Saint Brigitte, so revered among devout Catholics.
The Vatican was forced to accept Peter’s offer. And so the remains of Brigitte were sent to Rome and the marble Venus went to Russia.
Watch a Video Tour of Venus of Tauris in the Hermitage: