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Exhibition to open at San Antonio Museum of Art September 15

The first female nude. The first kiss. Beauty, marriage, children, myth—Aphrodite played a leading role in all of it. Her story and image have been a vibrant part of Western art for more than 2,500 years. Aphrodite and the Gods of Love is the first exhibition to consider how visual representations of Aphrodite evolved across antiquity—an evolution that serves as a key to understanding her complex identity.

While best known as the goddess of love and beauty and a catalyst of the Trojan War, to the ancient Greeks (and Romans, who knew her as Venus), Aphrodite was much more: seductress, instigator of desire, mother, wife, lover, patroness of brides, seafarers, warriors, and civic leaders. All of this is revealed through different media—sculpture, ceramics, jewelry, votives, mirrors—in this groundbreaking exhibition.

Organized by the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Aphrodite and the Gods of Love travelled to the Getty Villa in Malibu before arriving in San Antonio and features iconic works from the MFA Boston collection including one of the most admired faces of Aphrodite, the famed Bartlett head. And in a first for San Antonio, works from the Museo Archaelogico in Naples, Italy, are on loan, some of which were excavated from the ruins of Pompeii. “One of the dramatic, must-see works is a nearly seven foot tall semi-nude sculpture from the amphitheater of Capua,” said Jessica Powers, Gilbert M. Denman, Jr. Curator of Art of the Ancient Mediterranean at SAMA. statue of Psyche and Cupid, Aphrodite’s son.

The San Antonio Museum of Art is known for its own collection of ancient art, the largest and most comprehensive in the southern United States. Several pieces from the museum’s permanent collection are in the exhibition including a The exhibition runs from September 15, 2012 to February 17, 2013. The museum is offering extensive programming: figure drawing classes, lectures, guided tours, cooking classes. The exhibition space features a “Discovery Gallery” where patrons of all ages will be able to engage in exhibition-related art and other activities.


The San Antonio Museum of Art is housed in the historic Lone Star Brewery along the Museum Reach section of the San Antonio River Walk near downtown. SAMA’s collection contains more than 25,000 works of art representing cultures from around the world and over 5,000 years of history.

SAMA is open Tuesday, Friday and Saturday: 10:00 a.m.--9:00 p.m.
                  Free Tuesdays: 4:00--9:00 p.m
Wednesdays and Thursday: 10:00 a.m.--5:00 p.m.
Sundays: 10:00 a.m.--5:00 p.m.
                 Free Sundays: 10:00 a.m.--noon 

Exhibit Highlights:

Statue of Aphrodite
Roman, from the amphitheater of Capua, AD 117-138
H. 82 5/8 in. (210 cm)
Soprintendenza Speciale per i Beni Archeologici di Napoli e Pompei. Museo
Archeologico di Napoli, 6017
Image ©
Head of Aphrodite (The Bartlett Head) Greek, made in Athens, about 330 BC
H. 11 5/6 in. (28.8 cm), w. 7 1/8 in. (18.1 cm), d. 9 3/4 in. (24.8 cm)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Francis Bartlett Donation of 1900, 03.743
Statuette of Aphrodite emerging from the sea
Greek or Roman, Eastern Mediterranean, 1st century BC – 1st century AD
H. 16 15/16 in. (43 cm), w. 11 7/16 in. (29 cm)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Frank B. Bemis Fund, 1986.20
Statuette of Eros wearing the lionskin of Herakles
Greek, East Greek, late 1st century BC
Terracotta with traces of pigment
H. 15 3/4 in. (40 cm)
Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, Henry Lillie Pierce Fund, 00.312