Venus Victrix

Holme Cardwell, 1815

Venus Victrix

Holme Cardwell 1815


Standing, full-figure, female nude. The head is turned to the right as she gazes downward; her hair is twisted to form a band around the head, it trails in ringlets over her back and shoulders and is knotted in a bow at the centre of her forehead. Her body is swayed in a gentle serpentine with tilted hips and shoulders. Her right arm, which has a band around the biceps, is extended across her body; her right hand gently rests on drapery that hangs over her left thigh. Her left arm is raised to the height of her bust and in her hand she carries an apple. Her right leg is planted on the ground, her left leg is bent and the foot rests on the back of a tortoise. The sculpture has a circular base and stands on a columnar pedestal in a contrasting, dark stone.

Display Label

Gallery text panel In Pursuit of Beauty Late Victorian Art and Design Improving the quality of British art and design had been a concern since the 1850s. The British Empire had expanded into new continents but it was the classical ideal of beauty, based on Ancient Greek and Roman culture that was still considered the model for serious art. The pursuit of beauty was a form of escapism from the mass-production of industrial Britain. As well as looking to the ancient world, artists and designers were delighted and inspired by the arts of Renaissance Italy, the Middle and Far East. Many of the paintings here feature a beautiful woman. Sometimes she is a passive, decorative form, but often she is a dark and brooding femme fatale, a symbol of seduction, deception and destruction. The 'fatal woman' may reflect late Victorian male fears as women campaigned for equal rights and new roles. The emphasis on colour, harmony and rhythm and simplifying the form of an object would become major concerns in the 20th century. They can be seen emerging here in the work of late Victorian artists and designers.

Object Name

Venus Victrix

Creators Name

Holme Cardwell

Date Created

about 1850


sculpture: 114cm
sculpture & base: 211cm

accession number


Place of creation



marble (carrara)

On Display

[G12] Manchester Art Gallery - Gallery 12 - TEMPORARILY CLOSED
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Gift of Mrs Elton Bechley


© Manchester Art Gallery

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