Venus de Milo: That Girl

Attributed to Alexandros of Antioch, Venus de Milo, c. 100 BCE, marble, 6’ 7 ½”.  Photo by Shawn Lipowski (Shawnlipowski) (Own work), CC-BY-SA-3.0 or CC-BY-SA-2.5-2.0-1.0 , via Wikimedia Commons.

Everyone recognizes this lady who lost her arms. The heavy marble limbs probably fell off hundreds of years ago. She a big lady too, standing over six and a half feet tall. Because she was created in ancient Greece, probably by Alexandros of Antioch, her name really ought to be Aphrodite, the Greek version of the Roman goddess of love and beauty. She was found in the ruins of the ancient city of Milos, hence the other part of her name. Like all ancient Greek sculptures, the Venus de Milo originally was painted and wore jewelry. Quite possibly, her one hand held and apple and the other hand rested on her knee.

Venus de Milo is a fine example of the Greek Hellenistic style. Sculptors in the Hellenistic era created works of art that either displayed anti-heroes and types of people or they presented dramatic and eye-catching forms that draw viewers into the action and the space of the sculpture.

Surely, the Venus de Milo is idealized: the features on her face are symmetrical, her breasts are small, her hips are wide, and her body is fleshy and soft. By the third century BCE, at the beginning of the Hellenistic era, the stoic, symmetrical, and static figures of the previous Classical era really began to break into a viewer’s world and engage an audience. Venus de Milo appears to be responding to something in the viewers’ space. Her twisted posture invites viewers to walk around all sides of her magnificent figure in order to see every curve and bump in her lovely form.

 

Attributed to Alexandros of Antioch, Venus de Milo, c. 100 BCE, marble, 6’ 7 ½”.  Photo by Ricardo André Frantz (User:Tetraktys) (taken by Ricardo André Frantz) [CC-BY-SA-3.0  or CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons.Sally Coleman | The Art Minute

 

Other sculpture from the Hellenistic Era

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