Wednesday, 7 January 2015

#598 Paris, con't . . . "The Venus de Milo"

Trish and I spent three weeks in Paris last month exploring museums and monuments and enjoying the art, architecture,
and ambiance of the beautiful city.  Please visit the previous
three blogs for more info about the art we experienced.

The focus of this blog is the Greek Hellenistic masterpiece, "The Venus de Milo" located in the Louvre.
The six foot eight inch high Parian marble carving was discovered on the island of Milo in 1820 by a French explorer with the help of a  peasant and was acquired in1821, a gift from King Louis XVIII who received it from the Marquis de Riviere.

Everyone was charmed by the exquisite grace and beauty of the sculpture and its arrival in Paris caused great
 excitement resulting in violent disputes about its history.  Shown below, is an image of "The Venus de Milo".

The sculpture represents the mythological Goddess of Love and Beauty, called Aphrodite by the Greeks
and Venus by the Romans and has come to represent the universal standard of perfection.

Importantly, the much adulated sculpture is an original Greek statue and not a Roman copy.
Below, is another image of "The Venus de Milo" taken last month in the Louvre.

The sculpture belongs to the Hellenistic age of about 130 BC and some scholars believe it almost certainly was
created by Praxiteles.  Like other works by this great sculptor, the figure is slightly off balance in a contrapposto pose.

Contrapposto is an Italian term that means "counterpose" or "opposite" and it was originated by the ancient Greeks.
It is used in the visual arts to describe a human figure standing with most of its weight on one foot so that its shoulders
and arms twist off-axis from the hips and legs . . . the weight is therefore unequally distributed between the two legs,
resulting in a slight curvature of the torso and an elegant tilting of the pelvis and shoulders in opposite directions.

While some scholars believe the contrapposto and the face is in the style of Praxiteles, there are many who think the calm strength of the countenance suggests the school of the great sculptor, Phidias.  To further complicate the matter, some think the proportions of the body follow the school of the sculptor Lysippus.
The most recent theory, is thought to be the work of Alexandro of Antioch
due to an inscription found on what may have been its original pedestal.

Arguments also prevail as to how the sculptor placed the arms . . .
many ideas have been proposed - some think she held an apple in
her raised left hand -  but, unless further discoveries are made, the position of the arms will always remain a mystery.

There are also conflicting ideas about how the statue was discovered
but despite the controversy and unknown data, "The Venus de Milo"
is thought to represent the ideal of feminine beauty and she
remains one of the most famous sculptures in the world.

Fortunately, after discovery and after several attempts,
it was decided not to replace the missing arms since the
original design remains unclear and unknown.

Additional images of the sculpture are shown below.


Rodin loved "The Venus de Milo" and wrote an essay about the work in "Art and Progress" in 1911.
The link to the translation is

Much, much more has been written about the famous sculpture which is beyond the scope of this blog.
More information can be obtained online.

At the end of each blog about art in Paris, I'll include a personal glimpse and souvenir of our excellent
experience last month which those of you who have visited the beautiful city can relate to.
Remember . . . souvenir in French means "memory".

Below, is a photo of bargaining for an antique book from a bookstall vendor along the Seine.
I now agonize over not purchasing the old art book . . . the price was right but it was very heavy and by this time
 I had already filled a newly purchased suitcase with books and had shipped others as well.  I must go back!

Go to the BLOG INDEX on the right for more information. 

Blog, text, photos, drawings, and sculpture . . . © Sandy Scott and Trish


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