Representations of the goddess of love wringing her hair may have been inspired by ancient Greek sculptures (anadyomene is the Greek word for rising). The subject was also central to a famous lost painting by Apelles, the most celebrated painter of ancient Greece. Reflecting its debt to such ancient sources, this Renaissance Venetian carving is inscribed with a Latin tag. It means: "Naked Venus wrings spray from her hair". This tag leaves us in no doubt as to the sculpture's subject matter. This is useful, because the goddess's symbolic scallop shell (partly hidden by her left foot) is even less obvious than the one in Titian's picture.
Antonio Lombardo was part of a leading family of sculptors which had settled in Venice during the 1460s. Originally from Lombardy in the north of Italy, Antonio's father Pietro won a number of highly prestigious architectural and sculptural commissions in Venice and nearby Padua. Antonio worked on these projects, together with his father and also with his brother, Tullio. The sculptures made by the Lombardo family reveal a keen interest in classical antiquity; Antonio and Tullio Lombardo are particularly known for the classicising marble reliefs and busts which they produced. Between 1506 and his death in 1516, Antonio worked in Ferrara and sculpted a number of these classically inspired reliefs for Alfonso d'Este, the Duke of Ferrara.