“Look at the work of Apelles’ brush; Kypris,
just rising from the sea, her mother; how,
grasping her dripping hair with her hand, she
wrings the foam from the wet locks”
Antipater of Sidon, c. 125 BC
Apelles’ panel-painting – installed in the
sanctuary of Asklepios on the Island of Kos –
would become the prototype for one of the
most iconic representations of Aphrodite
Anadyomene – in Greek, meaning ‘rising from
For centuries, the legend of the origins of
Aphrodite Anadyomene – as related by
Athenaeus in 3rd century AD - dwindled amid
the ranks of forgotten Classical mythology.
This piece marks a moment of renewed
interest and a renaissance, as it were, of
classical Greek influence in the late Hellenic
world, a time when Rome was gearing up to
change the face of the Mediterranean.
Athenaeus describes as the ancient artisans
Praxiteles and Apelles watch Phryne take her
clothes off, let her hair down, and walk naked
into the sea at Eleusis. Phryne subsequently
becomes the model for Apelles’ Aphrodite
Peculiarly, the masterpiece is scant mentioned
in the ancient sources and seemingly remains
forgotten until late Hellenistic times when it is
suddenly – according to Pliny - rendered
famous by the Greek epithets written in her
Apelles’ Anadyomene became the par
excellence of divine female physiognomy and
highly imitated paragon in sculpture
throughout the ages.
The asymmetrical features appear cut from
butter; the head is bowed somewhat and eyes
behold you in the confident gaze of a woman
intrinsically aware of her own lush beauty and
admiring glances she receives. The hair is
parted and filleted in the classical style.
Conceived at the cusp of changing traditions –
a break in the evolution of female sculpture
was set to occur as Rome grew to dominance –
this piece may be viewed as a last vestige of
an archetypical classical canon.
A tour de force of grace and linear charm.