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The Venus of Malta

“The Venus of Malta” (Standing Female Figure)
Clay. H. 13.3, W. 7.0, D. 4.5 cm
Ħaġar Qim Temple (Malta), Temple Period, 3600–2500 bce
Heritage Malta–National Museum of Archaeology: 21295
Courtesy of Heritage Malta, photography © Daniel Cilia

Found in 1839 in the first room of the temple, this remarkably well-preserved figure reflects a high level of artistic achievement, and has justly earned the title “The Venus of Malta.” The anatomy of the female figure is sensitively modeled in a startlingly naturalistic, if somewhat exaggerated, style. The musculature and underlying skeletal structure, especially of the shoulders and buttocks, is finely rendered. This statuette is quite different from the corpulent figurines that are synonymous with Temple Period sculpture. Almost all of the standing figures, whether nude or clothed, stand in this posture, with the right hand by the side and the left resting on the chest.