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This fragment is based on a lost life-size prototype dating from the fourth century BC by the great Greek master Praxiteles. The original was acclaimed by the Roman author Pliny as the finest sculpture 'not only by Praxiteles but in the whole world'. It represented Venus, the goddess of love and beauty (her Greek equivalent was Aphrodite). Classical sculptures were excavated in great numbers from the early sixteenth century and were a huge influence on artists and sculptors. This was a relatively expensive purchase in 1940.