The Winged Victory of Samothraceis by far my favourite item in the Louvre. I have kept this review for last and this will also conclude the series of the top “must-see” items in the Louvre.
What makes this sculpture so impressive? For starters she stands at the top of the Daru staircase, towering above all. She almost took my breath away even without a head or arms.The wings and the drapery gives her a majestically look. She is beautiful!
The sculpture depicted the Greek goddess, Nike and dates back to 190 BC. “Nike is the Greek word for victory and she was not just created to honour the goddess but also a sea battle called “Rhodes”.In 1863 it was found in countless pieces on the island of Samothrace. She was put together again and was brought to the Louvre by the French archaeologist, Charles Champoiseau.
When it was put together some pieces, like the right wing for example, did not survive. A plaster copy is now in its place. The cement base beneath the feet is also new. Initially the statue stood on the sculpted prow of the ship. Her arms were never discovered. When she still had her arms, her right arm was raised and cupped around her mouth to shout “Victory!”.
They also never found her head but they did find the fingerless hand and the tip of a ring finger in 1950.The power of the work is enhanced, to many people, by the very fact that the head and arms are missing.
Recent Political History
Since 1999, the people of the island of Samothrace have written letters requesting that the original sculpture be returned to their homeland so she can once again stand in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. In response, a gift of a different sculpture was sent to the people of Samothrace and the gift was rejected, being buried in a field along the coast of their island.