Winged Victory: The Nike of Samothrace

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Winged Victory: The Nike of Samothrace The Nike of Samothrace (fig. 1) Charles Champoiseau uncovered pieces of masterfully worked Parian marble in April of 1863.1 On Samothraki, the island from which Poseidon is said to have watched the fall of Troy, these segments of stone came together to form four main sections: a torso, a headless bust, a section of drapery, and a wing.2 The sections were shaped to be assembled though the use of cantilevering and metal dowels, allowing the sculptor to extend beyond medium’s gravitational limitations (fig. 2). Just one year later, the pieces were assembled (and those missing were remodeled), and the Greek goddess Nike was revealed at the Louvre. A Hellenistic masterpiece, she is caught at the very moment in which she alights on the prow of a warship. Right leg outstretched, her hips bend left and her shoulders twist back to the right, creating a beautiful sense of torsion through the contrapposto technique. Her massive wings are blown back by the speed of her flight and the ship, possibly in the moment just before she furls them. Damp from the spray of the sea, her tunic is plastered tightly around her body by the driving wind, held in place with two belts, one around her waist and the other beneath her breasts. A second piece of cloth called a himation has slipped from around her waist and streams out on either side behind her, blown tightly against her thighs. Both garments exhibit virtuoso handling of the drapery—the wet folds of the fine cloth can be felt by the viewer, cool in the misty gusts, and the transitions to where her skin can be seen underneath is flawless. She and the ship on which she stands were recessed into a niche in the stone around the outer r... ... middle of paper ... ...e Theogony. Trans. Hugh G. Evelyn-White. Web. Internet Sacred Text Archive. 8 Nov. 2009 . Homer. The Iliad. Trans. Samuel G. Butler. Web. Project Gutenburg. 7 Nov. 2009 . Lahanas, Michael. “Art Produced in Pergamon (Pergamum).” Web. Hellenica. 8 Nov 2009 "Nike." Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th Edition 1. Academic Search Premier, EBSCOhost (accessed November 6, 2009). Pausanias, Description of Greece with an English Translation by W.H.S. Jones, Litt.D. in 4 Volumes. Volume 1.Attica and Cornith, Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd., 1918. Ridgway, Brunilde S. Hellenistic Sculpture II: The Styles of ca. 200-100 B.C. Madison, Wisc.: The University of Wisconsin Press, 2000.

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