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The Medici Venus is, like the Belvedere Apollo (see, in this series of studies, Tate D00056–D00058; Turner Bequest V C–E), a definitive example of classical Greek sculpture of the fourth century BC. The original, executed in marble, originally with added colour to enhance its realism, has been attributed to Praxiteles; the most famous extant copy is the first-century BC marble in the Uffizi, Florence. Another full-length study by Turner in this series is D00060 (Turner Bequest V G); see also D40233 (Turner Bequest XVIII A [verso]) and the verso of the present sheet (D40214).
When he was in Rome in 1828, Turner made a rapid outline study in oils (Tate N05509)1 of a figure similar to that of the Venus de’ Medici, or the closely related Venus Pudica (a late fourth-century work, the earliest extant version of which is in the Capitoline Museum, Rome); Butlin and Joll suppose that since the figure differs from the original in certain respects, Turner drew it from memory.
Martin Butlin and Evelyn Joll, The Paintings of J.M.W. Turner, revised ed., New Haven and London 1984, p.175 no.298, pl.300.
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