One of the most beautiful pieces of history that you will see on display at the Louvre is The Winged Victory of Samothrace or The Nike of Samothrace.
It was on my first visit to the Louvre that I met her, she is truly a breath-taking sight to behold when you first see her. She meets ever visitor to the Louvre with the same defiant yet elegant stance. This image of triumphant spirit has graced her honored position in the Louvre since 1884 and is a sculpture known the world over.
This wonderful beauty was first discovered by armature french archaeologist Charles Champoiseau in April of 1863 on the Greek Island of Samothrace, which is located in the northern Aegean Sea. The statue contains a partial inscription on the base that includes the word Rhodios (Rhodes). For those that are into history you will know that at one time, Rhodes was the strongest naval power in the Aegean sea. The inscription would then date the statue at 288 BC at the earliest.
It is thought that the statue was commissioned to commemorate a naval battle. The most likely one is thought to be the battle of Cos that took place in 255 BC in which Antigonus II Ganatas of Macedonia was victorious over Ptolomy II of Egypt.
The statue itself stands about eight feet high and is made of grey and white Thasian and Parian marble and was originally part of a temple complex that was dedicated to Greek Gods on the Island of Samothrace.
As previously mentioned this statue is known the world over and has been the inspiration for other works. She has been copied several times. Likenesses of Nike can be found at the Ohio State University, Connecticut Collage at Syracuse University and The Estrugamou Building in Buenos Aires Argentina, just to name a few. She has also been made the subject of poetry and song and she has been used as a symbol of freedom throughout the ages.
I hope to see her again one day, perhaps next time I am in Paris…