This tiny sculpture depicts a faceless female nude, with a sort of crown carved with a repeating motif (that resembles a braided hairstyle). The curves of the woman’s body are also exaggerated in volume, depicting an obese woman.
In 1864 Paul Hurault, an amateur archaeologist, named a small sculpture he found Venus Impudique (immodest Venus), after the goddess of love and beauty, due to its voluptuous forms. Almost half a century later, in 1908, Johann Veran (Josef Szombathy) discovered this tiny statue and named it Venus of Willendorf, after the place where it was found in Austria.
Considered to be one of the most mysterious sculptures in the world, it is the oldest work of art known to man. This statuette is also seen as the founding work of the Paleolithic era, also known as the ‘Old Stone Age’.
Although the sculpture predates the myth of Venus for 20000 years, it is still believed to be a fertility goddess, or a Venus figurine or fertility figurine; despite this connection to fertility, its purpose, origins, and intent, is still unknown; besides its date, very little is known about its origins, aim or function.
The exaggerated features of the curvaceous female body is easily associated with reproduction and fertility; the rounded abdomen, large breasts and hips, celebrates femininity, goddesses, and eroticism. The absence of facial features, greatly adds to the focus on the voluptuous forms. The crown, composed of seven horizontal bands wrapped in concentric circles, is believed to be either a knit cap pulled downwards or braided hair. Very little attention was given to the upper limbs, which is highly enigmatic. The small size of her feet allows us to understand that she was not meant to be freestanding, but possible carried around;
This sculpture was carved from limestone and tinged with red ochre. Even though the work depicts the female in a crude and caricaturesque manner, some of its details are precisely and rhythmically rendered, showing a great deal of technical sophistication, something highly skillful for the time in question.