Joy of Museums

Exploring Museums, Art & Historic Sites

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

Nike of Samothrake Louvre Ma2369 n2

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

This colossal monument is a statue of the winged figure of Nike, the Greek goddess of Victory. This sculpture is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of antiquity, and replicas of this winged figure were famous in the ancient world. The Winged Victory of Samothrace, also known as the Nike of Samothrace, was created at about 190 BC and discovered 1863 in Samothrace, a Greek island in the northern Aegean Sea. The sculpture stood on the prow of a ship and was erected to commemorate a naval victory by a Macedonian general.

 Winged Victory of Samothrace, Paris 18 December 2009

The base of the Nike statue is in the form of a ship. It depicts the prow of a battleship, showing oar boxes jutting out from the ship’s flanks.

Nike is wearing a long tunic of fine cloth, which falls and folds to her feet. The fabric is gathered by two belts, one hidden by the folds which hang over the hips and a second strap beneath the breast area. The garment’s flowing folds are portrayed with great skill. The beautiful cloth tunic is in striking contrast with the thick, deeply carved draped folds of the cloak on the back of Nike.

An archaeological excavation on the Greek island of Samothrace, led by an amateur French archaeologist named Charles Champoiseau, unearthed the large winged statue in 1863. Champoiseau arranged for the sculpture to be sent to Paris. It is today considered one of the Louvre’s greatest treasures and is displayed at the top of the sweeping Daru staircase at the Louvre.

The Greek island of Samothrace is in the northeastern Aegean Sea. In ancient times, the island was home to a famous temple complex known as the Sanctuary of the Great Gods. During a 1950 excavation, part of her right hand and other fragments were discovered by archaeologists. A plaster cast of the statue, along with a very few recently discovered fragments, are in the Samothrace Archaeological Museum.

Exploring other Ancient Greek Masterpieces

Reflections

  • How do you see Victory?
  • Is this how victory feels?
  • Does victory give you wings?
  • What does Victory mean for you?
  • How did world-famous museums help promote Ancient Greek culture?

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

  • Name:              The Winged Victory of Samothrace
  • Year:                 c. 200–190 BC
  • Type:                Parian marble
  • Dimensions:     244 cm (96 in)
  • Discovered:      1863
  • Location:          Samothrace (also Samothraki) a Greek island, Aegean Sea
  • Museum:          Louvre, Paris, France

~~~

“To win glory,
step into the chariot of honoured Victory (Nike),
for to one person only does the goddess grant to jump into her great carriage.”

– Simonides

~~~


Photo Credit in order:   See page for author [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons     1) By karlnorling from Brooklyn, USA (Winged Victory of Samothrace) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons 2) By Livioandronico2013 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons 4) By Ggia (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons 5) By Sergey Meniailenko from Cupertino, USA (Flickr) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons