Fine Art

Venus Makes A Rare Visit To D.C.'s National Gallery

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One of the best preserved sculptures from Roman antiquity is about to make its Washington, D.C., debut. Host Scott Simon reports the Capitoline Venus will go on display next Wednesday at the National Gallery of Art.


Visitors to the nation's capital will soon have a lifetime chance to see one of the most precious artifacts of ancient Rome. The Capitoline Venus will go on display next Wednesday at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. She is over six feet tall and naked, covering herself with both lovely arms.

The renowned Greek artist Praxiteles sculpted cold, hard marble into what looks like warm flesh around 360 B.C. The Capitoline Venus has left Rome only once before, when Napoleon seized her in 1797 as part of the spoils of war and brought her to Paris.

She was returned to Rome in 1816 after Napoleon fell. Mark Twain saw the Capitoline Venus in Rome and wrote a short story bearing her name.

The Capitoline Venus will reside at the National Gallery until September, extending her arms to visitors from another century. Rome and Washington D.C. have signed an agreement to become Sister Cities. In return for the visit of the Capitoline Venus, Washington will send Rome more humidity.

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