Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Louvre--Greecian Goodies

The first place I went inside the Louvre was to the ancient Greek sculpture section. That was definitely what I was most excited to see.

Hall of Greek statuary

The Femme drapee et voilee dates from 270-250 B.C. (or avant J.-C., as the French signs say). She could use one of those heads next to her!

Femme drapee et voilee

This funerary statue of a woman is more modest, not even admitting what period she dates from! The sign says the 300s.

At least she kept her head about her

These Athens Cult Reliefs also date from the 300s B.C.

Athens Cult Reliefs

Praxiteles is the Athenian sculptor who invented the female nude according to the sign in the Louvre. His dates are 370-330 B. C., though it seems to me Eve was invented much earlier by a different Artist.

Bits of sculpture from various artists

He did not limit himself to female nudes, as demonstrated by the Apollo Sauroctonos (that means, "Lizard Slayer"!) from 350-340 B.C.

Apollo Sauroctonos

Another male nude nearby is Ares or Mars, the god of war, dating from first or second century A.D.

Ares/Mars, wearing a helmet at least

The centerpiece of the room is Venus de Milo. The statue was found in 1820 on the island of Milos. The French government bought it for 6000 francs. She has been identified as Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty (her Roman name is Venus).  The museum sign by the Venus de Milo has a great description:
Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty. In ancient Greek, her name supposedly meant 'borne out of the foam'--referring to the legend of her birth. The goddess is most often portrayed nude, renewing her erotic powers by bathing: Aphrodite semi draped or nude, leaving the water. She is associated with the swan or the dove, and in her popular form, especially venerated by the courtesans, she is portrayed riding on a goat. Her principal centres of worship are Cyprus and Cythera.
The statue follows Praxiteles' style, but was made in the second century B.C., so long after he died. I have to say, one of the nice things about going to a museum is that you can appreciate a statue properly. You can walk around it, view it from different angles, see the various details in it. I spent a good bit of time here.

Venus de Milo, standard view

Venus de Milo, from her left

Venus de Milo, from her right

Venus de Milo, backside

Alas for you, dear readers, backsides are a minor theme of my Louvre posts! Too bad today isn't April Fools' Day.

Further on is the Aphrodite du type de la Venus d'Arles, dite Venus Cesi, found in Rome in the 16th century but dating from the first or second century A.D.


Switching to a clothed goddess, we have Athena Mattei or Minerva, from 450-330 B.C.  Wisely, she does not let her age be known too precisely. The statue is actually a Roman copy of the ancient Greek statue.


A more recent statue (from c. 100 B.C.) called La Pallas de Velletri is given a place of honor at the end of the hall opposite from Venus de Milo. Pallas is one Roman name for Athena, the other is Minerva.

La Pallas de Velletri

Off in a stairway by itself is the Winged Victory, a statue with base and plinth discovered by Charles Champoiseau on the island of Samothrace in 1863. The plinth and base (which is shaped like a ship's prow) are made from gray Rhodian marble, while the Victory statue is white Parian marble.

Winged Victory, from the front

Left side view

Right side view

Some reconstruction was required, so the left part of the bust and right wing are plaster additions. The right hand of the statue was found in 1950 and is in this display case:

Or it would be, if it hadn't been removed!

Samothrace's sanctuary was dedicated to the Cabeiri gods, invoked for seafarers' safety from shipwreck and for victory in battle. This monument may have been dedicated to those gods or built to commemorate a sea battle like the ones between the Rhodians and King Antiochus III in 190 B. C.

There was this random centaur in the area too!

I forgot to take a picture of the marker for this one!

The room also had a grand exit, befitting such a splendid collection.

A memorable exit

Next, we move to Italy!

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