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Venus Pudica: M.6-1974

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Object information

Current Location: Founder's Entrance Hall Upper Landing


Venus Pudica


Sculptor: Marchesi, Pompeo




White marble, carved in the round. Reclining, partially draped figure of Venus.


History note: Carved for Duca Pompeo Litta Visconti Arese, and situated in one of the grottos of the Nymphaeum of the Villa Lainate, near Milan reputedly from a palazzo in Rome; acquired in England by Gallery Heim, London and exhibited in their Autumn Exhibition, 1972, London, Paintings and Sculpture 1770-1830.

Legal notes

Purchased with the Cunliffe, Perceval, and Webb Funds, aided by the Friends of the Fitzwilliam, the Pilgrim Trust and a Grant-in-aid from the Victoria and Albert Museum.

Measurements and weight

Height: 109 cm
Width: 157.5 cm

Place(s) associated

  • Milan ⪼ Italy

Acquisition and important dates

Method of acquisition: Bought (1974) by Gallery Heim


19th Century
Production date: AD 1829 : dated


Marchesi was the leading Neoclassical sculptor in Milan during the first half of the nineteenth century, whose output was influenced by the work of Canova, under whom he had studied between 1804 and 1809. He established a large and prolific studio, and was Professor of Sculpture at Milan’s fine art academy between 1838 and 1852.

This partially draped Venus reclining on luxurious mattresses and pillows draws its inspiration from the great Italian Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova’s famous marble portrait of Pauline Bonaparte as Venus Victrix, carved in 1808. Marchesi’s homage was commissioned by Duke Pompeo Litta Visconti Arese (1785–1835) and by 1840, it had been installed in one of the garden grottoes of his spectacular residence in Lainate (near Milan), the Villa Borromeo Visconti Litta, together with Marchesi’s Penitent Magdalene (M.7-1974). The composition proved popular and Marchesi produced variants such as that dated 1838, which shows Venus with Cupid (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna); and that dated 1855, which shows Venus entirely naked and lying on a net (Galleria d’arte moderna, Milan).

People, subjects and objects depicted


  • Sculpture UK

Materials used in production

White marble

Techniques used in production

Carving : White marble, carved

Inscription or legends present

  • Text: P. MARCHESI, F/MILANO 1829
  • Method of creation: Inscribed
  • Type: Signature

References and bibliographic entries

Identification numbers

Accession number: M.6-1974
Primary reference Number: 31226
External ID: CAM_CCF_M_6_1974
Stable URI

Audit data

Created: Saturday 6 August 2011 Updated: Thursday 30 June 2022 Last processed: Monday 18 December 2023

Associated departments & institutions

Owner or interested party: The Fitzwilliam Museum
Associated department: Applied Arts

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The Fitzwilliam Museum (2024) "Venus Pudica" Web page available at: Accessed: 2024-04-24 15:51:58

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{{cite web|url= |title=Venus Pudica |author=The Fitzwilliam Museum|accessdate=2024-04-24 15:51:58|publisher=The University of Cambridge}}

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