Sunday, 28 December 2014

#595 Paris: "The Victory of Samothrace"

Trish and I just returned from three weeks in Paris.  Our time was spent in museums, visiting monuments,
 and enjoying great food in the beautiful city.   We've been to Paris several times over the years but have never
 spent such a lengthy time there.  Typically, we go in the winter and miss the crowds in the museums . . . 
weather seems to be more manageable than standing ten or more people deep in front of the art.  

The primary reason for the trip was sculpture and I'll return to the Paris experience
 often in upcoming blog posts with images and comments.

Greek art has had a great influence on my work as explained in earlier December posts.  I consider Greek art the ultimate source of inspiration and am particularly inspired by the Classical and Hellenistic periods.  Briefly,  Classical Greek art,
which follows the Archaic period and runs from the fifth century B.C. to the
death of Alexander the Great in 323 B.C., brought the widespread
mastery of anatomy and naturalism while depicting the perfect human body.
The Classical period was followed by the Hellenistic period which
 is a more sensual and emotional style than the Classical ideal.  

Shown at right is my all-time favorite Greek sculpture: "The Victory of Samothrace" - also known as "Winged Victory" - which resides in the Louvre in Paris.  I had seen it many times perched at the the top of the museum's Daru staircase and was excited
to once again see the colossal winged image of power and grace.

When I saw it several years ago, it had a pale yellow ochre color as shown below in an older photograph.   It has recently been cleaned, is presented on the bow of a ship, and is now much whiter that when I had seen it earlier. 

At left, is an image of the Hellenistic masterpiece:

"The Victory of Samothrace".

It is over 9 feet high without base and represents the Greek god,
Nike. The marble sculpture was carved during the 
Greek Hellenistic period approximately 200 B.C.
The female figure is alive with palpitating energy
and sensual force and was created to celebrate
the winning of a naval battle. 

Shown below, is an older photo of the sculpture before cleaning.

Shown below, the dramatic torso is thrust forward with a conquering motion as the wings beat heading into the wind on the bow of a ship and the flowing drapery flutters behind.  The garment is held against the figure's body by the force of the wind while a strong, vertical line leads up the right leg to the top of the torso.  I was fascinated by how the wings were attached to the body . . . they seemed to have grown to the shoulders in a natural way.

The sculpture was discovered and excavated in 1863 on the island of Samothrace in the Aegean Sea 
and sent to the Louvre where some parts were restored in plaster.  It was removed from the Louvre 
for safekeeping in 1939 in anticipation of the outbreak of World War II then returned after the war.  

"The Victory of Samothrace" is held to be one of the great surviving masterpieces of sculpture 
from the Hellenistic Period, and from the entire Greco-Roman era.

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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