Also known as the Winged Victory of Samothrace or Nike of Samothrace-the goddess Nike (meaning Victory in Greek) is an astounding massive piece standing at 328 cm. That’s almost 11 ft from the top of her shoulders to her feet and she’s standing on a ship.
Placed at the center of the landing in the grand Daru staircase in the Louvre, the statue takes your breath away. It is overwhelming in its sheer power, beauty and size.
The Victory made of Parian marble from Paros, Greece, circa 220-190 BC-can we say old-is so beautifully sculpted. The head is missing, as are the arms, but the sense of the power, the gigantic windblown wings held back, the seemingly wet garments flowing about the legs fighting the sea wind, displaying a stance of power, ferocity and victory, overrides everything else.
A graceful, ebullient and wind swept Nike coming down to earth standing on the prow of a ship declaring victory. The sculpture was discovered in 1863 on the small island Samothrace in the Aegean, by Charles Champoiseau, French Vice-Consul to a city in Turkey. Just in case you were wondering about the French connection.
The first time I came face to face with the statue-I know it’s an odd thing to say ‘face to face’ with a headless statue, but the idiom fits. I wasn’t very graceful, so awestruck I wasn’t paying attention, missed a couple of steps and paid appropriate homage-on my knees-face down or up since I was staring at the magnificent site at the time. A clumsy introduction like that is memorable to say the least.
It is a talent I have kept up to this day, my head tends to be up, eyes focused on a tall building or something else that catches my attention and if someone is with me, I get pulled up by my coat, shirt, whatever is handy, or yelled at to stop and watch where I’m going.
I think everyone has heard of the Louvre and the many treasures it houses, but I wonder how many of us actually thought about the historic building that so many masterpieces call home. As you might have guessed, I happen to like buildings too.
Till next Time,
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