Venus de Milo

Venus de Milo, a symbol of beauty, idealism, and grace, is also known by the name Aphrodite. This iconic statue, dating from around 100 B.C., has a home among the treasures of the Louvre. The sculpture is in good company; this Parisian museum has been a leading museum since long before the French Revolution.

Venus de Milo
Venus de Milo

The Venus de Milo statue, though incomplete, has long been regarded as beautiful. The famous statue was missing her arms when it was unearthed in the nineteenth century. Similar to Winged Victory, the Venus de Milo was discovered on a Greek island in the Aegean Sea. In the modern era, the island is called Milo, but it once went by the name Melos. The Marquis de Rivière presented it as a gift to King Louis XVIII, who gave it to the regal museum a year later in 1821. From the beginning of her time in France, Venus at the Louvre gained instant fame.

The Venus de Milo statue, like the Mona Lisa, is one of the most famous ladies of the art world. The armless sculpture, too, is a bit of a mystery. Because several elements have been lost over time, it's impossible to know which woman the statue depicts. Scholars, historians, curators, and visitors are alike in wondering if this ancient Greek statue portrays Aphrodite, Artemis, or the sea goddess Amphitrite, whom the people of Milo honored. Perhaps Venus de Milo was leaning against a pillar, holding a bow, gazing in a mirror, or holding an apple. Some think the statue was a replica because of its similarity the Aphrodite of Capua, itself a copy of a Greek original. That statue is on view in a Naples museum.

Whoever she is, there's no doubt that the Venus at the Louvre is amazing work of art. The statue features hallmarks from the late Hellenistic era with added flair, especially in composition, positioning, and the way the drapery falls over the hips. Many of the elements suggest a transition between the classical mode of sculpture into a new era. While her hairstyle is evocative of an earlier era, the elongated body and half nudity is reflective of later techniques of Greek sculpture.

Over the centuries, countless kings and peasants have paused to ponder her beauty. The Venus de Milo statue is essentially two blocks of marble, although different parts were sculptured at different times. The constituent pieces were attached by vertical pegs, a common technique at the time and place where the statue was created. At one time, Venus sported metal jewelry, but only the holes remain where the adornments were affixed. The marble might have been ornamented with bright colors, but today, only the cool marble remains.

Today, many visitors include the Venus de Milo on thematic tours. More information about the paths to take is available at the visitor center under the Louvre Pyramid, a starting point for most visits. Whether you want to see the museum highlights, like the works of Leonardo da Vinci, or want to concentrate on Mediterranean antiquities, a self-guided thematic tour will help you use your time wisely at this amazing place.

The Venus at the Louvre is just one of the treasures from the ancient Greeks, Romans, and Etruscans. The core of the collection came from royal treasures and other works of art seized while the French Revolution was profoundly changing the country. In the centuries since, the collections and exhibition space have been greatly enhanced.

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