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  • These are all the same woman.

  • Which one do you recognize?

  • Why?

  • How did the Venus de Milo, an armless ancient statue, go from being lost on a tiny Greek

  • island to an international icon?

  • It's part of a story that spans centuries - and a possible cover-up that starts with

  • a missing piece right here.

  • This sculpture's so popular that you can easily find a 3d scan of it, that's really

  • good qualityand then get it printed.

  • And the sculpture itself provides a clue to her popularity because it contains her history.

  • I really hope I don't screw this up.

  • The story is hidden right here in the seam.

  • In 1820, a Greek farmer discovered pieces of a woman carved from marble on his land.

  • He sold what he found to the French for about 1,000 Francs - today that'd be around $11,000

  • US - enough for a decent used car.

  • They took this home - a Venus, split in two, along with some other scattered marble fragments.

  • Venus has a bunch of imperfections: the arms were not still attached.

  • Other flaws marred the body.

  • She was missing her earlobesprobably taken by looters.

  • A foot was gone, right here.

  • And a likely base - called a plinth - had broken off.

  • That would have been right here.

  • Each half was meant to be joined in the center with iron tenons - imagine two metal rods

  • joining the two halves.

  • The rest of the parts likely fell off due to age.

  • When she was assembled, her scale was really impressive,

  • At 6'7 inches high and with features like a 12 and a half inch foot.

  • That's large.

  • Shaq-esque foot.

  • But Venus's looks weren't the most important factor in her success.

  • For that you've got to look to the circumstances in which she was dug up, and the French art

  • worldit was in turmoil.

  • This drawing of the Sphinx was made by Napoleon Bonaparte's personal art-looter, Vivant

  • Denon.

  • He drew it during his tour of Napoleon's Egypt, while he was searching for art to plunder.

  • Classical art was considered the most desirable - a tie to the greatness of Rome and Greece.

  • While Napoleon spent 20 years trying to take over the world, Denon took art from everywhere

  • Napoleon succeeded.

  • He directed the Louvre museum under Napoleon's rule, and filled it with the art that he stole.

  • When Napoleon lost his throne, that massive cache of classical art had to be returned

  • to its owners.

  • Suddenly, the Louvreand Francehad a huge problem.

  • For example, the Vatican got back Laocoon and his sons and the Apollo Belvedere, and

  • the Italians were reunited with their own looted Venus, Venus de Midici.

  • The Louvre wasn't empty, but it was desperate.

  • Then, five years later, Venus turned up on an island in Greece.

  • The French were willing to do anything to replace that classical art that they lost

  • when Napoleon got kicked out.

  • Even massage the truth.

  • Remember that plinth, the one that got broken off the statue?

  • We know what the plinth looked like thanks to early drawings.

  • By the sculptor's name on it and some other clues, it definitively dated the Venus to

  • 130-100 BC - what is called the Hellenistic era.

  • That was a problem.

  • It was 200 years after the Classical Period - the one that the critics loved.

  • So the French tried to hide it.

  • The plinthgot lostbefore Venus went on display at the Louvre in 1821.

  • With the plinth taken care of, the museum's director declared Venus was definitelyclassical

  • not Hellenistic.

  • And the Louvre supported critics who called Venus a work of classical Greek genius.

  • They gave her a prime spot in the gallery and insisted it was certainly the well-known

  • goddess Venuseven though she didn't have a label.

  • Competing interpretations of what Venus's missing arms were doing surfaced, and the

  • Louvre supported the ones they thought made Venus look most important.

  • All of this worked.

  • Venus held a prime spot in the galleries and...became iconic.

  • The Louvre insisted that she was classical, all the way until 1951, when they finally

  • reversed course.

  • Her unique fame was the result of the Louvre's branding campaign to regain national pride.

  • It's that history that makes her the Venus we recognize.

  • Maybe the historyis the reason she's still worth seeing today.

  • OK, so one little public service announcement.

  • If you want to get your own Venus de Milo 3d printed, I put a link to a really nice

  • model in the description below.

  • And I actually got mine done at the local library.

  • Maybe you can too, and don't make the same mistake I didget yours in hot pink or

  • lime green.

These are all the same woman.

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B1 Vox venus louvre napoleon classical art

The conspiracy behind this famous statue

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    林宜悉 posted on 2020/07/29
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