Nike of Samothrace
Plaster cast of a statue of Nike, goddess of victory, dating to the 3rd century BC, 3.28 m high.
The marble original kept in the Louvre (Louvre inv. 2369) was found in 1863 in many fragments in the Sanctuary of the Great Gods on the island of Samothrace in the north Aegean. The Nike of Samothrace is a virtuoso work of the Hellenistic period. With large eagle-like wings she alights on the brow of a boat, while a forceful wind pushes her drapery dramatically back against her body. The figure wears two garments which both press against and swirl around her. The upper body twists and shifts oddly to the right. The right hand and fingers, which have been found, show that the figure did not hold a trumpet as had been supposed in the decades following the discovery of the statue. Statues of Nike were a common format for victory monuments since the Archaic period. The particular format of Nike atop a ship, however, seems to have become popular in the Hellenistic period; there are several examples of similar monuments from Greece (Epidauros, Lindos, Cyrene) as well as representations on coins. [Purchased in 1914 from the workshop of the Louvre (mould no. 8075). Cast Gallery inv. B140].