Venus de Milo

From Academic Kids

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Venus de Milo, front and back.

The Venus de Milo is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous pieces of ancient Greek sculpture. It is believed to depict Aphrodite (called Venus by the Romans), the Greek goddess of love and beauty . It is a marble sculpture, slightly larger than life size at 203 cm (80 inches) high, but without its arms and its original plinth. From an incription on its now-lost plinth, it is thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch; it was earlier mistakenly attributed to the master sculptor Praxiteles.

The statue dates to about 130 BC. Despite this relatively late date, its composition is a mixture of earlier styles from the Classical period of Greek sculpture. It is not known exactly what aspect of Venus the statue originally depicted. It is generally thought to have been a representation of Venus Victrix holding the golden apple presented to her by Paris of Troy (see also the Judgement of Paris). This would also have served as a pun on the name of the island Melos, which means "apple" in the Greek language. A fragment of a forearm and hand with an apple were found near the statue and are thought to be remnants of its arms. After the statue was found, numerous attempts were made to reconstruct its pose, though it was never restored. (A drawing by Adolf Furtwngler suggesting its original form can be found in an article by KousserTemplate:Ref.)

The statue was found in two pieces in 1820 on the Aegean island of Melos, also called Milo, by a peasant named Yorgos. He hid it from the authorities but was later discovered by Turkish officials, who seized the sculpture. A French naval officer, Jules Dumont d'Urville, recognized its significance and arranged for a purchase by the French ambassador to Turkey, the Marquis de Riviere. After some repair work, the statue was presented to King Louis XVIII in 1821. He eventually presented it to the Louvre museum in Paris, where it still stands on public display.

The statue's great fame in the 19th century was not simply the result of its admitted beauty, but also owed much to a major propaganda effort by the French authorities. In 1815 France had lost the Medici Venus, regarded as one of the finest Classical sculptures in existence and looted from Italy by Napoleon Bonaparte. Following Napoleon's downfall, the Medici Venus had been handed back to the Italians. The French consciously promoted the Venus de Milo as a greater treasure than that which they had recently lost. It was duly praised by artists and critics, who regarded it as the epitome of graceful female beauty; however, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was clearly not following the script when he dismissed it as a "big gendarme".

This statue is not to be confused with the group of prehistoric statuettes known as Venus figurines.

Venus de Milo in popular culture

Site of the discovery of the Venus de Milo on Melos, Greece
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Site of the discovery of the Venus de Milo on Melos, Greece
  • In episode 2F06 ("Homer Bad Man") of the TV show The Simpsons, Homer attends a candy convention and observes a gummi figurine lying in glass case. The proprietor informs him that the gummi is "the rarest gummi of them all, the gummi Venus de Milo, carved by gummi artisans who work exclusively in the medium of gummi", upon which Marge requests that they stop saying "gummi" so much. Homer proceeds to steal the Gummi Venus de Milo. The green gummi was drawn as a fairly accurate replica of the actual sculpture.
  • The American humorist Will Rogers once sent his young niece a postcard of the Venus de Milo with the message: "See what will happen to you if you don't stop biting your fingernails."
  • In episode 28 of popular Japanese anime GetBackers Gingi and Ban search for the missing arms of Venus de Milo.
  • In the popular anime Sailor Moon Sailor Venus quotes, "What am I? Venus de Milo?!"
  • Miles Davis's "Birth of the Cool" has a song titled Venus de Milo.
  • The Venus de Milo appears in the Red Room, an enigmatic dream location in David Lynch and Mark Frost's television series, "Twin Peaks."

References

External links

eo:Melosa Venuso fr:Vnus de Milo nl:Venus van Milo ja:ミロのヴィーナス pl:Wenus z Milo pt:Vnus de Milo uk:Венера Мілоська zh:断臂维纳斯

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