Nike of Samothrace, c. 200-190 BCE, Parian Marble, 96
Take a Minute: Nike of Samothrace
Thank you to everyone who responded to the survey last week. Results are in and they are crystal clear. The vast majority of you enjoy the bread and butter of The Art Minute, the short posts about an artist or a work of art (Art in a Minute). The overwhelming majority of responders would like to receive a newsletter once a week. Most of you like Renaissance and Modern art. Lots of you are interested in photography. Finally, a clear majority of you would like for me to add posts that include a formal analysis of a work of art. These posts will appear under the heading “Take a Minute,” and here is the first one!
This winged goddess of victory, Nike of Samothrace, is a sculpture from the Hellenistic Era in ancient Greece. Most likely, the people of Rhodes commissioned the sculpture to commemorate the naval victory in the Battle of the Eurymedon.
Hellenistic art is dramatic and exciting. Here, the victory goddess either is landing or departing from the prow of a boat. Neither leg carries her weight because the sculptor captured her in movement, at the apex of the story, just when she brings victory to the citizens of Rhodes. Her enormous wings stretch behind her, fighting the headwind that moves around her body, revealing her soft figure beneath the fabric. The fluttering garment suggests a positive form for the wind that occupies the negative space around the figure and beneath the wings.