Venus de Milo is perhaps one of the most iconic and recognisable works of art around.
Most have a view of her standing proudly gazing ahead, with a serene, peaceful expression and a draped gown gently poised on her hips.
Her beauty can be described in that she is perfect but imperfect, beautiful but broken.
But who is she?
Her name is related to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty. This is also is linked to Aphrodite's Roman name, Venus and the Greek island of Milos, where she was discovered.
She was created around 130 – 100 BC during the Hellenistic world. This was a period, of Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire. During this period Greek culture ruled the Mediterranean and, jewellery more intricate; sculptures more dramatic, and adverse previously taboo themes such as suffering, old age, and death portrayed.
She is constructed using Parian marble (fine-grained semi-translucent pure-white marble quarried from the Greek island of Paros in the Aegean Sea.) She is also fashioned out of two separate blocks of marble: the upper, nude half of her body, and her draped lower half. The cut in the marble is hidden among the folds on the hips.
She was discovered by a French navy sailor Olivier Voutier. Whilst docked at the Greek harbour of Melos; he took time out to visit local places of interest. He soon learned that a local farmer had located the top half of a statue of a woman. They investigated further and soon unearthed its lower half.
She was purchased by the French for a modest sum believed to be 6000 francs – or around £26,000 in today’s money, and was then transferred by boat in 1820 to mainland France whereby she was subsequently presented to Louis XVIII as a present he, in turn, gave it to the Louvre in Paris where she has remained on display since 1821.
Her arms were never found, and much mystery is attached to how they originally may have looked. A popular theory is that she was a holding an apple, although this has never breen proved. What is for sure is that it is very common for arms to fall of statue of this size as they are simply are the most weak and pretududing part.
She avoided the clasps of Adolf Hitler during the second world. On the 25th of August 1939, as the Nazi war machine readied to invade western europe and with Paris in thier sights, the Louvre in Paris was closed for 3 days, officially for repairs. However this was a clandestine operartion to move much of the Louvre art collection including Venus to the Château de Valençay, a castle commune in central France.
Picture credit - Pierre Jahan / Archives des musees nationaux
She stayed there undiscovered until after the end of the war in 1947, when she returned to Paris and the Louvre, where she proudly stands to this day.
An embodyment of female form and shrouded in mystery she will continue to capitivate for many years to come.
We have some lovely replica handmade Venus candles at Vendeo so please feel free take a look.