Venus de Milo

Even if we are now in late August, here is my ARCHAEO-Crush for the months of May and June. It is one of the most famous works of ancient art at the Musée du Louvre.

VENUS DE MILO

Type: artefact (sculpture)
Civilisation: Hellenistic Greece
Date: circa 100 BCE

ARCHAEO-Crush: For the longest time, I thought the Venus de Milo had been sculpted by ancient Greek artist called Milo–but that is actually not the case. The sculpture is called ‘de Milo’ (of/from Milo) because it was discovered in 1820 on the Greek island of Milos (Milo in modern Greek), by a peasant who was looking for stones to build a wall around his field. We do not know who sculpted this beautiful goddess. Certain elements recall sculptures of the 5th century BCE  (her air of aloofness, the harmony of her face and her impassivity), while others–like the hairstyle and delicate modeling of the flesh–are reminescent of sculptural works by Praxiteles (4th century). Despite Classical traits, innovations associated with the Hellenistic Period confirm the date of the sculpture as being a little later.
Although she is called Venus, we do not know for certain that the goddess of love is actually represented.  As is the case with many ancient sculptures, she is fragmented and the arms that would hold attributes that would inform the identification of the goddess are missing. The sculpture semi-nudity would favour an identification as Aphrodite/Venus, but it could also be Artemis, a Danaid (one of the 50 daughters of Danaus) or even Amphitrite, the goddess of the sea worshipped on Milos.  And so the mystery remains unsolved…

Bucket list status:  I actually saw this sculpture twice. The first time, I was walking with a colleague through the galleries on the way to a meeting and I noticed the sculpture from the corner of my eye.  I giggled and say, “Oh! I forgot that sculpture was here! I’ll have to come back.”  It was on another visit (also rushed) that I was able to take a few minutes to look at the famous Venus de Milo and snap a couple of pictures.

Additional information: You will find more information, including a list of reference to published materials, on the Louvre’s website.

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