Sleeping Venus

Antonio Susini (Florence 1558–1624 Florence)
Sleeping Venus
After a model by Giambologna of ca. 1584, cast ca. 1600–1615
Bronze
8 1/4 x 12 1/4 in. (21 x 31 cm)

A classical Roman marble known as the Sleeping Ariadne inspired the pose of this Venus. Her slumbering, outflung abandon is Giambologna’s invention. The smooth precision of the figure, the angular drapery, and the detailed engraving of the eyes, fingernails, and embroidery are hallmarks of the bronzes that were cast and tooled by Giambologna’s principal assistant, the goldsmith Antonio Susini. Susini conveys the sensuous effects of flesh pressed against pillows and drapery folded by the motions of sleep. Emblazoned on Venus’s couch is a winged skull — a reminder that death is the companion of sleep and that sensual life is fleeting.