This reduction in colored resin from the original in Paros Marble comes from the Louvre Museum ‘s exclusive collection The Cyclades, Greece – 2nd century B.C. (Paris, Louvre Museum)
The Venus de Milo occupies a foremost place in the history of Greek sculpture and the taste for the antique. Its style is characteristic of the late Hellenistic period, which wasboth classical and innovative. The slightly severe facial expression is rather classical, but the twist of the body is new. This swirling posture and the realistic modelling are strokes of genius.
The Venus de Milo was unanimously praised as soon as it was discovered. Its arrival in France was an event and a commemorative medal was struck for the occasion. A farmer discovered the statue near the ruins of an antique theatre on the island of Melos (Milo) in 1820. The Marquis de Rivière bought it and presented it to Louis XVIII in 1821. The king later gave it to the Louvre. Because of this veneration, it escaped the reconstruction of the missing limbs, which was a common practice in nineteenth-century restoration.
The many reproductions shown in European capitals attest to the craze for this figure, which the sculptor Auguste Rodin (1840-1917) praised for her “splendid belly, as wide as the sea.”
Contrary to conventional wisdom, the artists of antiquity did not choose marble for its pure whiteness. When studied under a microscope, many works reveal traces of red, blue, green or yellow pigments. Surprise: Greek sculpture was polychrome. To revive the spirit of antique sculpture, mistakenly thought to be austere, the Venus de Milo have been covered with bright colours.
Dimensions: H. 11.8″ W. 3.9″ D. 3.7″ – 2.2 lbs
Origin: Discovered in 1820, Melos Island
Epoch: End of the 2nd century B.C., Hellenistic period
Material of the original: Paros marble
Museum: Paris – Musée du Louvre