Herm of a Vestal Virgin1821-1822 by Antonio Canova

Vestal Virgins, consecrated to Vesta, Roman goddess of the hearth, served in temples as guardians of an eternal, sacred flame and were expected to emulate the goddess's purity and chastity. Canova suggested her innocence through the austerity and sparseness of the Neoclassical style, drawing on the contemporary idea that classical forms carry with them the expression of a strict morality. The bust is made of simple geometric shapes: a square for the bust and oval for the face. The tightly wound head covering pulls in her hair and, with the cloak, draws attention to the purity of the shapes. Her firm shoulders and uninhibited, unmoving stare further suggest her resolve, innocence, and moral authority.... the statue does not invite touching. It is a cool, intellectual work of simple forms and restrained emotion.
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Media: marble sculpture