Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Aphrodite, known as the "Venus de Milo"

The Hellenistic period (323-31 BC) was the last great era of Greek history. Alexander the Great left behind him an immense empire, which soon became a number of separate kingdoms, each a center of artistic activity with a variety of interests. Then during the 2nd century BC, as they lost their political independence and eventually became citizens of Rome, Greek artists renounced this originality in order to satisfy the huge Roman demand for Classical art.
The Venus de Milo, or rather the Aphrodite of Melos (from the name of the island where the statue was found in 1820), is one of the last great Greek originals.

Here again we see a reinterpretation of the precepts of Polyclitus: the canon is more slender, the head smaller, and the chiasma seems to become three dimensional in a generous spiral. The influence of Praxiteles can also be felt in a composition that echoes the Venus of Arles. The statue was almost certainly created in around 100 BC, in the "Neoclassical" style that was so much to the Romans' taste, combining a Classical, impassive face with the realistic elements of Hellenistic nudity. Note the contrast between the neutral, Classical face and the naturalistic, Hellenistic rendering of the body's full curves.
Seductive as we still find her today, would she retain her charm for us if she also recovered her missing arms, jewelry and coloured finish?

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