The Townley Torso …

Unconnected to either exhibition (see below), this Roman 1st or 2nd century torso of Venus – to be found in the Enlightenment Gallery on the British Museum’s ground floor – has always caught my eye, in a similar manner, perhaps, as Velázquez’s Rokeby Venus (National Gallery) always has.

To Charles Townley (1737 – 1805), the English country gentleman, antiquary and collector who owned this torso, it was ‘an object of sexual desire and innuendo’. (He and his friends are shown gazing at it and admiring its well-realised buttocks in a painting, executed sometime between 1771-1775, by Richard Cosway.)

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