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Gallery Text

The objects in this case present different visions of the female body. Statuette or vessel, funerary offering or object of worship, decorative feature or conscious work of art, they would have elicited very different — though not mutually exclusive — responses when seen in their original contexts. Some called for symbolic or religious understanding and were used in ritual, such as the Cycladic figure; others invited their viewers to reconstruct a narrative scenario, such as the Aphrodite binding her sandal; whereas yet others offered visceral aesthetic, sensual, and perhaps even tactile delight. One of the bodies here — Lachaise’s Woman Bending Backward — is not from the ancient world, but, like many other European and American works, depends very much on Greco-Roman models and ideals, even as it distances itself from them, for example with a pose not known from representations of women in antiquity.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Aphrodite Adjusting Her Sandal
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Aphrodite Adjusting Her Sandal (The Sandal Binder), replica of type created in the 3rd century BC
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
1st century BCE-2nd century CE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Roman Imperial period
Persistent Link
Level 3, Room 3200, Ancient Mediterranean and Middle Eastern Art, Classical Sculpture
View this object's location on our interactive map
Physical Descriptions
Crystalline Greek marble, perhaps from Naxos
20.4 cm h x 14 cm w x 16.5 cm d (8 1/16 x 5 1/2 x 6 1/2 in.)
Grenville L. Winthrop, New York, NY, (by 1943), bequest; to Fogg Art Museum, 1943.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Grenville L. Winthrop
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums , written 1990

Statuette of Aphrodite Adjusting Her Sandal

The head and top of the neck, right arm from the middle of the upper arm, right leg from the middle of the thigh, left leg from below the knee are broken away. The left arm was made separately and attached with a dowel near the shoulder. There are other minor damages and incrustation.

There are many statuettes in marble, bronze, and terracotta of the popular theme of Aphrodite tying on or adjusting her sandal. The original may have been created in western Asia Minor by one Polycharmos, but Alexandria in Egypt became a center for such productions in late Hellenistic and Roman times (Brinkerhoff, 1978, chapter iv, pp. 70-97). A number of statuettes of Aphrodite adjusting her sandal have marine attributes or have been associated with shrines where sailors made dedications, hence the name Aphrodite Euploia (Huskinson, 1975, pp. 1-2, no. 2. pl. 1).

Such decorative statuettes, when complete, could also have erotic overtones, as the example in Berlin from Aigion, where the goddess leans on a terminal figure of the ithyphallic Priapos (Conze, 1891, p. 13, no. 23). These small statues and statuettes also vary in anatomical proportions, the Harvard Aphrodite being plump, while an example just over twice as large emphasizes the slenderness of the figure (Galerie Koller A. G., 1979, pp. 238-239, no. 632). The statue found at Antioch-on-the-Orontes and now in the Baltimore Museum of Art also follows the slenderer, more elongated system of proportions (Brinkerhoff, 1970, p. 38, fig. 53). Statuettes like the Winthrop-Harvard example and that in Baltimore from Antioch have been found in various states of completion on Delos (Marcdade, 1969, p. 509, pl. XLVII).

Cornelius Vermeule and Amy Brauer

Publication History

Dorothy W. Gillerman, ed., Grenville L. Winthrop: Retrospective for a Collector, exh. cat., Fogg Art Museum (Cambridge, 1969), p. 256 (checklist).

Cornelius C. Vermeule III and Amy Brauer, Stone Sculptures: The Greek, Roman and Etruscan Collections of the Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1990), p. 53, no. 36

Exhibition History

Hellenistic Art: Objects from an Expanded World, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 10/03/2006 - 07/29/2007

32Q: 3200 West Arcade, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/16/2014 - 01/01/2050

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Google Art Project

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at