Phryne the Courtesan

Phyrne the Courtesan.

A Courtesan is a high-class Prostitute. Courtesans were well-educated, cultured and independent career women of loose morals, who traded sex and companionship to the wealthy and powerful men in exchange for money, luxuries and social status. They were often skilled conversationalists and entertainers, adept at using their wit, femininity and sexuality to achieve wealth, success and sometimes real political power. Some were gifted entrepreneurs and negotiators who became so influential, that history still remembers them.

One such woman was Mnesarete, otherwise known as Phryne. She was a famous Greek courtesan in 4th century BC, who became a model for Praxiteles’s statue of Cnidian Aphrodite, one of the most extraordinary sculptures of antiquity.

She was not only a beautiful woman, but seemingly a clever, persuasive one too, because when she was put on trial for impiety, which in 4th century Athens was a capital offense, she was able to convince the jury of her innocence and avoid the death penalty. Although it is rumored that she bared her lovely breasts in court to elicit sympathy and mercy from the judges, I believe that her wealth, status and a network of powerful lovers probably had more to do with her acquittal.

Ultimately, it was her social prowess and an ability to manipulate people and situations to her advantage that gave her personality a winning edge, while her beauty became immortalized in stone as Aphrodite – the Goddess of love.

Materials: Crown: 18k gold-plating, sterling silver, bronze, 21 Garnets, 18 Fresh water pearls, carved Water Buffalo bone, lost wax casting, construction. Gown: Gold applique embroidery on fine tulle, 24k gold bead embroidery, 300 Swarovski crystals, 63 Fresh water pearls, sterling silver, bronze, 10k gold-plating, Czech glass beads, 1 Garnet, 1 Rhine stone. Doll: Ball-jointed, bisque porcelain, china-paint, steel springs, magnetic mohair wig, leather lining, 24k gold fired-on applique jewelry on arms and legs.

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