The Bolognese "Venerina" is one of the more or less faithful replicas of the original model, the Venere dei Medici, that Clemente Susini (1754-1814) made between 1780-1782 in Florence. The agony of a young woman is represented in her last instant of life as she abandons herself to death voluptuously and completely naked. The thorax and abdomen can be opened, allowing the various parts to be disassembled so as to simulate the act of anatomic dissection.From the website for the stunning Museo di Palazzo Poggi in Bologna, Italy where the Venerina is housed.
A virtual dissection, to be carried out by lifting the movable layers or ‘pieces’ to reveal veins, arteries and internal organs. A young woman, the Venerina carries a foetus in her womb – to suggest the procreative potential of the female body – despite the total lack of any outward signs of pregnancy.
The alienating effect that the statue produces by combining anatomical detail, crude and repulsive, with a harmonious and sensual litheness, is the result of a precise scientific choice: sensitivity is an essential quality of matter; sensitivity – with its wide range of manifestations, including the sensuality of the Venerina who surrenders herself to death – lies at the core of the physical and physiological organisation of man.