This sculpture is a copy of a bronze thought to be by Adriaen de Vries (now in the Herzog Anton Ulrich Museum, Braunschweig). De Vries was born in The Hague, trained in the workshop of Giambologna in Florence and worked in Italy, then Augsburg, Germany and Prague.
The bronze dates to about 1600, but this marble version was probably made in Italy in the first half of the eighteenth century. This pose is typical of classical images of the goddess Venus bathing, and it may stem originally from a marble sculpture of Venus washing her foot made in the second century AD (Uffizi Gallery, Florence). Giambologna’s workshop produced several similar versions which de Vries would have seen, and there are also similarities to one of the bronze figures around the Hercules Fountain in Augsburg, which is by de Vries.
The sculptor of the National Gallery’s sculpture has not copied the original pedestal of the Braunschweig version, which looks inappropriately small for the figure and was cast separately.
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