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_THE IDEAL OF FEMALE BEAUTY_;
OR A DESCRIPTION OF THE FAMOUS STATUE
OF THE VENUS DE MEDICI.
The Venus de Medici at Florence is the most perfect specimen of ancient
sculpture remaining; and is spoken of as the Model of Female Beauty. It
was so much a favorite of the Greeks and Romans, that a hundred ancient
repetitions of this statue have been noticed by travellers. This statue
is said to have been found in the forum of Octavia at Rome. It
represents woman at that age when every beauty has just been perfected.
"The Venus de Medici at Florence," says a distinguished writer, "is like
a rose which, after a beautiful daybreak, expands its leaves to the
first ray of the sun, and represents that age when the limbs assume a
more finished form and the breast begins to develop itself."
The size of the head is sufficiently small to leave that predominance to
the vital organs in the chest, which, as already said, makes the
nutritive system peculiarly that of woman. This is the first and most
striking proof of the profound knowledge of the artist, the principles
of whose art taught him that a vast head is not a constituent of female
beauty. In mentioning the head it is scarcely possible to avoid noticing
the rich curls of hair.
The eyes next fix our attention by their soft, sweet, and glad
expression. This is produced with exquisite art. To give softness, the
ridges of the eyebrows are rounded. To give sweetness, the under eyelid,
which I would call the expressive one, is slightly raised. To give the
expression of gladness or of pleasure, the opening of the eyelids is
diminished, in order to diminish, or partially to exclude, the excess of
those impressions, which make even pleasure painful. Other exquisite
details about those eyes, confer on them unparallelled beauty. Still,
this look is far from those traits indicative of lasciviousness, with
which some modern artists have thought to characterize their Venuses.
Art still profounder was perhaps shown in the configuration of the nose.
The peculiar connexion of this sense with love was evidently well
understood by the artist. Not only is smell peculiarly associated with
love, in all the higher animals, but it is associated with reproduction
in plants, the majority of which evolve delicious odors only when the
flowers or organs of fructification are displayed. Connected, indeed,
with the capacity of the nose, and the cavities which open into it, is
the projection of the whole middle part of the face.
The mouth is rendered sweet and delicate by the lips being undeveloped
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