Wednesday, December 28, 2005

winged victory

Taking a brief break from buildings, here is an old love of mine, the Winged Victory of Samothrace (or, in Greek, Niki tis Samothrakis -- Νίκη της Σαμοθράκης).

She is made of Parian marble, and 3.28 meters or 11 feet tall, probably made around 190 BC in celebration of a naval victory. She was probably originally located outdoors, set into the niche of an amphitheater. The statue stands on the prow of a ship (which is cut out of the photo but doesn't look like much specific anyway) and represents the goddess as she descended from Olympus to award victory to the Greek fleet led by Demetrius I Poliorcetes. Before losing her arms, this Nike was probably blowing a victory paean on a trumpet.

Champoiseau discovered the prow she stands on in 1863 (I am impressed he could tell what it was) and she was reunited with it. Someone else found one of her hands later, in 1950; the Louvre keeps it in a little glass case nearby.

I visited her recently thanks to my new-found seekrit discovery of how to go in the Louvre BY THE MAIN PYRAMID ENTRANCE which is more beautiful than the Gate of Lions, and nonetheless wait in ALMOST NO LINE WHATSOEVER (about 30 seconds, in this case) and still have 5-6 hours of open time to visit it. There were a mere 15 people around the Mona Lisa (as usual blithely ignoring all the other da Vincis in the room, let alone the wonderful Giotto, Cimabue, and Giotto paintings), and it was easy to move straight to the front row center to have a good look at her - craziness. The rest of the museum was a dream of uncrowdedness too, including my favorite Babylonian, Ninevan, and Susean lions and warriors. Ha! looking forward to lots more future visits like this.

from the category of back-handed compliments:
Filippo Tommaso Marinetti, in the Futurist Manifesto of 1908: "A screaming automobile that seems to run on grapeshot is more beautiful than the Winged Victory of Samothrace."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

great article. I would love to follow you on twitter. By the way, did anyone hear that some chinese hacker had hacked twitter yesterday again.

8:45 AM  

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