06/07/11 A visit to Washington by the famed “Capitoline Venus,” one of the best-preserved sculptures to survive from Roman antiquity, was inaugurated by the the Mayor of Rome, Gianni Alemanno this evening.
On loan from the Capitoline Museum in Rome, the oldest public art museum in the world, it will remain on view in the West Building Rotunda of the National Gallery of Art until September 5th. It has left Rome on only one other occasion — when Napoleon seized it in 1797 and had it carried in triumphal procession into Paris (it was returned in 1816 after the fall of the French Emperor).
The “Capitoline Venus,” which measures approximately six feet six inches in height, derives from the celebrated Aphrodite of Cnidos created by the renowned classical Greek sculptor Praxiteles around 360 BC. Mark Twain’s visit to Rome in 1867 prompted him to write the short story “The Capitoline Venus,” where he describes the statue as the “most illustrious work of ancient art the world can boast of.”
Earlier in the day, Mayor Alemanno and Washington DC’s Mayor Vincent Gray signed a proclamation signifying the newly formed sister city relationship of the two capital cities.