Monday, 19 July 2010

Day at the Louvre II

My main reason for going to the Louvre was to see the Victory of Samothrace again. I saw it for the first time when I was 17. I had never- and still have never - seen any sculpture half as lovely.

For me, the statue, with its outstretched wings and swirling windswept garments, is the embodiment of magnificence. Although it has lost its head and arms, it retains beauty and grandeur. It seems to rush toward you from the heart of a wild, roaring storm.

Whenever I look at the Victory of Samothrace, I wonder if we've really made any progress. It was made around 180 BC; is there any sculptor on earth who can produce anything as wonderful today?


  1. even the base is brilliant! Don't think grayson perry could knock one of those out

  2. I wonder if it looks so grand and heroic now precisely because it is headless and armless?

    The head might have been rubbish and in 180 BC it would probably have been painted in hideous garish colours.

  3. It is indeed rather fine. I had the same feeling that maybe art hadn't progressed much since ancient times - though I was encouraged in this, of course, by the more gushing commentators on the subject - when I read Homer. Rodin was surely a genius to rival the ancient who scultured this. And I'm a huge fan of Constantin Brâncuşi (natch), but there's no where to go much after reductionism.

  4. Worm - I love listening to Grayson Perry, but I've never been swept away by what he makes
    Brit - I've been looking to see if it was painted. No-one ever says so. Even painted it would look spectacular, I suspect.
    Gadjo - I wish I could agree about Rodin. I used to like him, but now I look at his things and somehow find them sentimental. Brancusi's indisputable, given your location.

  5. Z - it's one of those horrible shocks when you discover that the Platonically timeless white marble is only how we see classical sculpture..

  6. Beautiful indeed. But Bernini's Daphne and Apollo would give it a run for its money too