Venus Lespugue

Venus Lespugue
Venus Lespugue

The Venus Lespugue is a small round statuette carved from an ivory tusk that is part of those known as Paleolithic Venuses. This concept was coined by experts to designate a group of free-standing sculptures or reliefs that, dating from the Paleolithic era and found in different sites in Europe, represent female figures. Despite their denomination as “Venus”, these figures are not associated with any type of goddess of beauty, rather reference is madeto her connotation as a mother or procreator.


The Venus of Lespugue was found in 1922 by the archaeologist Saint-Périer at the site known as in the town of Lespugue located in the French Upper Garonne. The work was found almost by chance, in a totally unexpected way when the archaeologists thought they had extracted all the archaeological remains, this small statue appeared, was damaged in the process and had to be restored.

It appeared together with a good number of furniture objects – pike spears, straighteners, decorative objects…- that have allowed us a much more exact dating of the piece, so the experts estimate that this venus could have between26,000 and 24,000 years old and therefore belong to the period known as Aurignacian-Perigordian.

Lespugue's work is the youngest of all the sculptures of venus that have been found to dateAt the moment, this fact is what perhaps explains the evolution of shapes, much more delicate, and carving, much more precise due to the technical evolution of the tools used.

The figure moves away from the typology of venus in profile, it is a work represented from the front, where the sculptor has given prominence to certain parts of the anatomy: the breasts, the pubis and the bellythus relating her to that facet of a fertilizing or procreating goddess. The rest of her anatomy barely seems sketchy, her head is small, her arms are barely hinted at, and they are completely attached to the body. These deformations must be related to a lack of technique on the part of the sculptor, he had sufficient skill to give the figure a more naturalistic character, however what is actually pursued is the representation of a goddess of fertility by what only the parts related to it, deserve to be detailed.

The legs come together as if they ended in a kind of shaft so it has been thought that it could be used to nail it to the ground and pay homage to it, its small size -147 mm- also indicates that it could be a some kind of portable amulet or deity.

On the back of the statue, historians and archaeologists have been able to observe a kind of vertical and horizontal lines that cover the legs of the goddess, its meaning has been much discussed but it seems that it could be some kind of skirt or typical garment of theepoch.

Currently the Venus is preserved in the Museum of Man located in Paris, France.

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