Sarah Baartman (Afrikaans: [ˈsɑːra ˈbɑːrtman]; also spelled Sara, sometimes in the diminutive form Saartje ([ˈsɑːrtʃi]), or Saartjie and Bartman, Bartmann; c.1775 – 29 December 1815):184 was the best known of at least two South African Khoikhoi women who were exhibited as freak show attractions in 19th-century Europe under the name Hottentot Venus—"Hottentot" was the name for the Khoi people, now sometimes considered as offensive term, and "Venus" referred to the Roman goddess of love and fertility.
Many African female diasporic artists have criticized the traditional iconography of Baartman. According to the studies of contemporary feminists, traditional iconography and historical illustrations of Baartman are effective in revealing the ideological representation of black women in art throughout history. Such studies assess how the traditional iconography of the black female body was institutionally and scientifically defined in the 19th century.Baartman died on 29 December 1815 around age 40, of an undetermined inflammatory ailment, possibly smallpox, while other sources suggest she contracted syphilis, or pneumonia. Cuvier conducted a dissection but no autopsy to inquire into the reasons for Baartman's death.