Venus Victrix

Statue of Pauline.

Do you know why Pauline posed covering her right ear when Canova was creating her portrait which became the famous statue, Venus Victrix? You can view the statue by going to the homepage and then clicking on the link, “Venus Victrix.”

When Pauline was 19 she was considered the most beautiful woman in Europe. At this time she attended a ball given by Madame Permon. One of Madame Permon’s guests was Madame de Contades, daughter of Marquid de Bouille who had favored the French monarchy, and thus, was against Napolean. Madame de Contades was also very beautiful and was one of Pauline’s rivals for the title of, “Europe’s Most Beautiful Woman.”

While reclining on a couch, Pauline was approached by Madame de Contades. They exchanged, “hellos” and as Madame de Contades walked away, she whispered rather loudly to her escort of the evening, “What a pity such a lovely creature should be so deformed. If I had such ugly ears I really think I would cut them off.” From that moment on, Pauline never wore her hair up nor did she ever pose with her ears exposed. Poor fragile thing. The irony here is that Pauline’s ears were quite small and lovely. If she had only realized that her only “fault” were her perfect ears, perhaps she would have taken this as a compliment.

This story is contained in Len Ortzen’s book, Imperial Venus: the story of Pauline Bonaparte-Borghese. If you enjoyed my book and want to learn more about Pauline, I highly recommend Ortzen’s book.


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