The Venus of Milo is a marble statue from Paros which represents the goddess Aphrodite. A masterpiece of the Hellenistic period, this is one of the most famous Greek sculptures. The incredible conditions of its discovery were almost fatal. Exhibited for the first time at the Louvre in 1821, its beauty as well as its missing limbs enshrined its fame throughout the world.
The discovery of the Venus de Milo
This statue was discovered in the spring of 1820 in the Cyclades archipelago in Greece, in Mélos or Milo. A peasant trying to build a wall around his field, digs the foundations and comes across a sort of crypt. At the bottom of this cave, he discovers a statue larger than life. A woman's face, bare bust, right hand holding a garment reaching down to the feet, left arm raised and folded.
The peasant and his son carry the pieces of marble blocks to hide them at home. French sailors stopping over on the island hear of the discovery, find the peasant and his son, admire the pieces of the statue and then quickly return to Constantinople to warn the French ambassador, the Marquis de la Rivière. The Marquis's secretary, dispatched a month later to buy this statue at any cost, comes across Turkish sailors pulling the pieces of the Venus behind them! The fight begins ... the bust is recovered ... but the marble has suffered, debris lurks all around. The French sailors put everything on board, including pieces, but didn't realize that the arm was missing!
The goddess of love and beauty
The statue, back in France, is offered by the Marquis de la Rivière to King Louis XVIII, who had it exhibited at the Louvre in 1821. Questions are raised concerning this missing arm… .the hypotheses are numerous. We remain silent on the process of recovering this statue, because it is useless to create a diplomatic incident ... Jules Ferry, ambassador in Greece around 1872, tries to clarify the mystery and makes an expedition in the Cyclades. He finds the peasant's son who assures him that he has seen the whole and intact statue and confirms that the French had removed the statue with force ... and paid much later!
Representing Aphrodite Greek goddess of Love, Venus for the Romans, she could also be Amphitrite, goddess of the sea worshiped on the island where she was discovered. Dated to the year 120 BC, the statue is made up of two assembled blocks: the legs on the one hand, the torso and the head on the other. Holes in the arms prove that she wore jewelry: a bracelet and earrings, finally a headband in her hair.
Feminine and sensual to the end, with her legs draped to the hips, bare bust, no roundness, she appears supple and natural in her sway. Was she leaning on a pillar? Was she holding back her clothes?
Prosper Mérimée pays homage to the goddess of Love and Beauty, with such fine facial features, her hair carefully pulled and tied in the Venus of Ille "such a woman, that I pity her lovers ... and yet I do not 've never seen anything so beautiful ”.
A necessary restoration
It was in July 2010 that theVenus of Milo, more than two meters high, returns to a new place in the Louvre, after six months of restoration. Cleaned, because it had turned brown .... and because it had kept traces of plaster and oil, following the molding made in the 19th century, it is now installed and surrounded by objects discovered at the same time as it , in a huge room of two hundred square meters so that the six million visitors can admire it quietly.
- The Venus de Milo: A myth of Dimitri Salmon. Pocket, 2000.
- The Venus de Milo. 2010.
- The Venus de Milo on the site of the Louvre museum.