Probably dating from the late nineteenth century, the park Venus is a close copy of Canova's famous Venus Italica in the Pitti Palace, Florence. Allerton bought the copy from a European dealer and had it placed in a small latticed pavilion in the Lost Garden, but since the structure was torn down in the 1970s it is located now in the Chrysanthemum Garden west of the Visitors' Center, virtually obscured from view by dense shrubbery.
Ludovici I, King of Etruria, gave Canova the commission for the original figure in 1802, asking him to interpret the magnificent, almost transparent white marble Venus de Medicis, which at the time was in France, having been carried off by Napoleon. (It is again in the Uffizi.) He created several versions of the subject, working on his Venus Italica from 1804 until its completion in 1812.
The antique model that Canova used as inspiration, believed to be a Greco-Roman copy of a Hellenistic Aphrodite Rising from the Sea, presented the goddess of beauty and love in a straightforward, unselfconscious manner, wholly nude and empty handed. Canova's neoclassical adaptation, however, is a free invention portraying the beautiful woman clutching drapery to her breast in a gesture both seductive and coy.
Canova exerted tremendous influence on his contemporaries, skillfully creating neoclassical reliefs and large-scale sculpture of great grace. Among his many significant works are the monument to Clement Xill (1792) in St. Peter's Cathedral, the reclining life-size marble Pauline Borghese as Venus (1808) in the Borghese, and a number of famous portraits of Napoleon (Scheinman).
Venus is currently undergoing extensive repair in the conservation barn. It is unknown when she will return to the grounds.