This is the Venus de Milo. It is a sculpture depiction of Venus, the Greek goddess of love. It is also believed to be a representation of Aphrodite, the Roman goddess of love. Findings and research have led to the belief that Alexandros from Antioch created the statue. The creation of Venus de Milo has been dated to around 130 B.C.E. The statue was found on April 8, 1820 on the Aegean Island of Milos (or Melos) and was moved to France.
There isn’t much information available concerning how the Venus de Milo was created. However, it is now known that the statue is made of Parian marble , possibly derived from two blocks of the material. Also, due to the overall construction of the statue, it is apparent that each piece was made separately and individually. At the completion of all of the pieces, Alexandros then attached them to one another, forming the entire statue. Each piece is held together by vertical pegs .
The reason that there is a lack of definite information about the Venus de Milo is the circumstances surrounding its discovery . It was found on the island of Milos (also known as Melos) by a peasant farmer in April 1820. He was assisted by French naval officer Olivier Voutier. After realizing how great of a find he had made, Voutier spread the word about the statue. Eventually, another French naval officer, Jules Dumont d’Urville, was traveling through the Aegean Islands and came to Milos. He purchased the statue, but didn’t have enough room on his ship. d’Urville sent word back to France to an ambassador for another ship and, upon his return, saw that the farmer had sold the statue to another person. Through negotiations, d’Urville was able to take the Venus de Milo back to France with him, as originally planned. When the statue was found, the missing arms were also reportedly found with it, but it was decided that they wouldn’t be taken along with the larger piece. Also, a plate was found with Alexandros’ name engraved on it, which indicated that he had created the statue.
Local Historical ContextEdit
This piece is believed to be from the Hellenistic period , and has been dated between 130 and 100 B.C.E. The Hellenistic Age is the name given to the time period from Alexander the Great’s death (323 B.C.E.) and 31 B.C.E. Under Alexander, the Greeks experienced a more democratic government. After his death, though, the state transitioned to a more absolute authority that resembled tyranny rather than democracy. The economy of Greece shifted from being ran by mostly simplistic, small-scale production to being more focused on big business. Citizens began to want an excess of nearly everything: property, possessions, money, etc. Finally, conflict and tension amongst the state’s leaders caused disunion throughout Greece that lasted for nearly the entire Hellenistic period.
During this time period, artworks were created more extravagantly. They would be made in a much more realistic style, and would sometimes even contain jewelry on them. This was the case for the Venus de Milo. It is widely believed that, in its original state, the sculpture would have been painted to more closely resemble a real woman. Also, it is known for a fact that jewelry was originally placed on the statue, because the places where the jewelry would be placed still remain. Of course, though, over the years, the paint has completely worn off and the jewelry has gone missing as well.
World Historical ContextEdit
Because of the mystique surrounding the Venus de Milo and the fact that it can’t be concretely tied to any one person or place, it doesn’t have true “world-historical significance.” However, culturally, the piece still holds significance. This stems from the statue’s uniqueness. The missing arms make this a very recognizable piece. Also, many are of the opinion that the Venus de Milo is a true example and representation of beauty. The main reason the statue has gained so much notoriety is because of the French leaders of the time. When d’Urville purchased Venus de Milo, it was mostly done to replace the Venus de'Medici . That statue had to be returned to Italy after the fall of Napoleon (Napoleon had seized it from the Italians and placed it in the Louvre museum ), but the Venus de Milo provided a replacement piece. The French were able to gain more recognition and prestige for their museum by having the Venus de Milo in their possession and on display in their museum.
University of Chicago, "Venus de Milo," http://penelope.uchicago.edu/~grout/encyclopaedia_romana/miscellanea/venus/venusdemilo.html#anchor5371
Britannica Online, "Venus de Milo," http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/625740/Venus-de-Milo
Newsfinder, "Venus de Milo by Jim Down," http://www.newsfinder.org/site/more/venus_de_milo/
Neuro-Vision US, "The History of the Venus de Milo," http://www.neuro-vision.us/ad/Article/The-History-of-the-Venus-De-Milo/233
Visual Arts Cork, "Venus de Milo," http://www.visual-arts-cork.com/sculpture/venus-de-milo.htm
Greek Thesaurus, "The Hellenistic Period," http://greek-thesaurus.gr/hellenistic-period.html
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