Venus de Milo: Louvre Museum, Paris
Note: click on photo for larger view. ©David A. Porter
Recently, we stood again in front of the famous Venus de Milo statue in the Louvre, Paris. As we pushed our way through the mob, we wondered: what’s the big deal with this statue, and why do people clamor to take their picture in front of it?
I suppose a great many people want to snap a photograph in front of this famous statue for the bragging rights, but why has this nude statue with its broken arms created such a hullabaloo?
Well, first of all, it is believed that the statue was created somewhere between 130 and 100 BC. Further, it is believed to be a sculpture depicting Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. Therefore, as she is a depiction of a goddess, she also models for us what the ancient Greeks found to be the perfect woman.
Further still, “the great fame of the Aphrodite of Milos during the nineteenth 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 returned the Medici Venus to the Italians after it had been looted from Italy by Napoleon Bonaparte. The Medici Venus, regarded as one of the finest Classical sculptures in existence, caused the French to promote the Venus de Milo as a greater treasure than that which they recently had lost. The de Milo statue was praised dutifully by many artists and critics as the epitome of graceful female beauty. However, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was among its detractors, labeling it a ‘big gendarme’.” (via venusdemilo.gr/fame/)
So, has my life changed since I stood in front of the Venus de Milo? No. But, as a student of history, I did enjoy this firsthand peek back into the century before Christ, and you certainly have to admire the craftsmanship. Plus, seeing something for yourself is always preferable to reading about it in a book. Don’t you think?
Disclosure: our Louvre experience was provided by the cool folks at Chocolatine Tours in France. Thanks!
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