Emory Report
June 26, 2006
Volume 58, Number 33


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June 26 , 2006
Goddess of love finds her head

by michael terrazas

Someone should have told Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, to follow her heart but not to lose her head in the process.

Lucky for Aphrodite, the Michael C. Carlos Museum will help her—or at least a statue of her—find her head again.

After submitting the winning bid for the rare and beautiful marble sculpture at a Sotheby’s auction earlier this month, the museum discovered they could purchase the head—which had been separated from the body—from a private collector.

The acquisition ensures the statue will be complete and on public view for the first time in possibly 170 years.
“This is a historic acquisition. Through the extraordinary generosity of Mrs. Michael C. Carlos, Emory has acquired the most complete version of the Capitoline Aphrodite in the United States and one of the loveliest of this type in the world. The statue is an icon of Greek art–indeed of Western art in general,” said Jasper Gaunt, curator of Greek and Roman art at the Carlos.

The Aphrodite sculpture first appeared in a published art catalogue in 1836. At that time it still had its head, which subsequently became detached under unknown circumstances. It was in researching the statue that Sotheby’s specialists recognized that, by coincidence, the head had been sold in a 2002 auction. When contacted, the owner of the head agreed to sell it to the successful bidder so the statue again would be complete.

Upon arrival in Atlanta, Carlos conservator Renée Stein will examine the pieces to assess their structural and surface conditions, and clean them. A plan then will be devised for reuniting the head with the figure. The museum will announce a date when the complete sculpture will go on view in its galleries of Greek and Roman art.