art history meme | 4/7 sculptures/other media: Winged Victory of Samothrace (Nike of Samothrace) (200-190B.C.)
The Nike of Samothrace, discovered in 1863, is estimated to have been created around 200-190 BC. It is 8ft (2.44m) high. It was created to not only honor the goddess, Nike, but to honor a sea battle. It conveys a sense of action and triumph as well as portraying artful flowing drapery through its features which the Greeks considered ideal beauty. It stood on a rostral pedestal of gray marble from Lartos representing the prow of a ship (most likely a trihemiolia), and represents the goddess as she descends from the skies to the triumphant fleet. Before she lost her arms, which have never been recovered, Nike’s right arm is believed to have been raised, cupped round her mouth to deliver the shout of Victory. The work is notable for its convincing rendering of a pose where violent motion and sudden stillness meet, for its graceful balance and for the rendering of the figure’s draped garments, compellingly depicted as if rippling in a strong sea breeze. The Nike of Samothrace is seen as an iconic depiction of triumphant spirit and of the divine momentarily coming face to face with man. It is possible, however, that the power of the work is enhanced by the very fact that the head is missing.
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