The Nike of Samothrace has been displayed at the Louvre since 1884 CE. The white Parian marble statue represents the personification of winged victory.
The masterly rendering of the wavy drapes of her pleated chitōn (tunic) leaves the impression the Nike descends from the heavens in mid-storm. The fabric of her chitōn is pressed against her body as if wet with humid air, yet at the same time, some drapery sways in rolling folds behind her. The goddess wears a girdle under her breasts as well as around the hips, over which pleats fold dramatically. This style of double-girding a woman’s tunic was popular in the 4th century BCE. Over her tunic, she wears a himation (mantle), which covers her right leg and is blown against her body by the imaginary force of the sea wind. The feathered wings of the goddess are spread as if in full flight.
The statue was primarily meant to be viewed from its left side in three-quarter view. This can clearly be seen on the right side of the body, which – like the back of the image – is rendered in much less detail. Compared to the dynamic composition and fine details of the left, the arrangement of the statue’s right side is rather straightforward. The goddess descends from the heavens and just alights the prow of a ship with her right foot while her left is still in the air. The base of grey Lartos marble suggests that the artwork was not only intended as a tribute to Nike but also served to commemorate a victory in a naval battle. The difference in color between statue and base returned to the original intention after a recent cleaning and restoration. The statue is 2.75 meters high; together with the base and the pedestal on which it stands, the work measures 5.6 meters in height, which appears even more impressive because of the location of the statue on top of the central staircase.
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