The Ancient Greece Collection, Louvre Museum, Paris, France

After major refurbishment work, the Louvre Museum opens to the public new rooms devoted to classical and Hellenistic Greek art (-450/-430). As a result of this work, the Venus de Milo, one of the museum’s best-known works, is on the ground floor of the southwest corner of the Cour Carrée (Sully wing).

Among the most famous works exhibited in the department are, for Greece, the Dame d’Auxerre, the horseman Rampin, the dinos of the Gorgon Painter, the metopes from the temple of Zeus at Olympia, the Venus de Milo, the Victory of Samothrace, numerous Roman copies after lost Greek originals, such as Praxiteles’ Sauroctonian Apollo, the Venus of Arles, the Ares Borghese, the Huntress Diana known as Diana of Versailles or the Gladiator Borghese. In ceramics, we find in particular important vases signed by the painters Exekias and Euphronios.

For Etruscan art, the major pieces are the gold fibula and the canopies of Chiusi, the sarcophagus of the Spouses of Cerveteri and the painted pinakes called “Campana plates”. For Roman art, we find the base of the statuary group of Domitius Ahenobarbus, the Apollo of Piombino, the Borghese Vase, the funerary statue of Marcellus in Hermes, the portrait of Agrippaof the type of Gabies, numerous portraits of emperors, in particular of Augustus, Trajan, Hadrian and Septimius Severus, the sarcophagus of Thessaloniki as well as the treasure of Boscoreale.

The Greek art collection belong to the The Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities department, which is spread over three floors: on the mezzanine preclassical Greece; on the ground floor classical and Hellenistic Greece, as well as Roman antiquities; on the first floor, which can be accessed by the Daru staircase where the Winged Victory of Samothrace sits, the Etruscan collections (rooms 660, 662, 663), the Greek ceramics exhibited in the Campana Gallery, the terracotta figurines, the bronzes and valuables.

The Greek, Etruscan, and Roman department displays pieces from the Mediterranean Basin dating from the Neolithic to the 6th century. The collection spans from the Cycladic period to the decline of the Roman Empire. This department is one of the museum’s oldest; it began with appropriated royal art, some of which was acquired under Francis I.  Initially, the collection focused on marble sculptures, such as the Venus de Milo’. Works such as the Apollo Belvedere arrived during the Napoleonic Wars, but these pieces were returned after Napoleon I’s fall in 1815. In the 19th century, the Louvre acquired works including vases from the Durand collection, bronzes such as the Borghese Vase from the Bibliothèque nationale.

The archaic is demonstrated by jewellery and pieces such as the limestone Lady of Auxerre, from 640 BC; and the cylindrical Hera of Samos, c. 570–560 BC. After the 4th century BC, focus on the human form increased, exemplified by the Borghese Gladiator. The Louvre holds masterpieces from the Hellenistic era, including The Winged Victory of Samothrace (190 BC) and the Venus de Milo, symbolic of classical art.  The long Galerie Campana displays an outstanding collection of more than one thousand Greek potteries. In the galleries paralleling the Seine, much of the museum’s Roman sculpture is displayed. The Roman portraiture is representative of that genre; examples include the portraits of Agrippa and Annius Verus; among the bronzes is the Greek Apollo of Piombino.

Archaic Greece Collection
The beginning of the art of preclassical Greece is essentially represented in the department by terracotta figurines from the Neolithic period (6500-3200 BC) produced in Thessaly. The Cyclades archipelago, notably in Kéros, Naxos (variety known as “of Spedos”), is represented by marble statuettes and vases from the Early Bronze Age (3200-2000 BC).

Some pieces bear witness to the Minoan civilization ((2000 – 1400 BC) including a fresco fragment (female head in profile, Phaïstos) which recalls the palatial decorations of the time at Knossos. The Mycenaean civilization (2000 -1050 BC) is essentially represented here by funerary material including a terracotta chariot (bige) witnessing the use of combat chariots by Mycenaean warriors.

The Geometric Greece Period, ranging from approximately 900 to 700 BC., is represented here by ceramics with geometric patterns that may include human figures or stylized animal representations. Then will come, the orientalizing and archaic periods.

Classical and Hellenistic Greece Collection
This section collects the Venus de Milo, the Winged Victory of Samothrace and numerous Roman copies after lost Greek originals, such as the Sauroctonian Apollo of Praxiteles, the Venus of Arles, the Ares Borghese, the Diana huntress known as Diana of Versailles or the Borghese Gladiator.

The French government, organized the Morea expedition in 1828. Inspired by the scientific expedition of the Egyptian campaign of 1798, it was decided to add to the sending of the troops a group of scholars. The Greek Senate, meeting at Argos in 1829, donated to France elements of six metopes from the Temple of Zeus at Olympia.

Greek ceramics Collection
With more than 13,000 works, it is the richest collection in the world. In ceramics, in particular important vases signed by the painters Exekias and Euphronios.

The Antiques Gallery
In 1807, the Emperor had just purchased the prestigious collection of his brother-in-law, Prince Camille Borghese. To accommodate it, it is necessary to enlarge the gallery of Antiques set up shortly before. Napoleon turned to the architects Charles Percier and Pierre Fontaine. Like the first rooms of the Gallery of Antiquities, these new rooms have been fitted out in place of the former royal apartments. But this time, the decor is completely redone. Percier and Fontaine knocked down the partitions to enlarge the space and opted for gray and red marbles which bring out the whiteness of the statues.

At the Louvre, the collections of Greek and Roman antiquities were gradually developed. Louis XIV first installed part of his collection in the Salle des Cariatides in 1692. In 1798, new antiques arrived following the Italian campaigns. The Galerie des Antiques was then created in the former apartments of Anne of Austria. Later, in 1807, Napoleon I purchased the collection of his brother-in-law, Prince Camille Borghese. The Emperor then had the Gallery of Antiquities enlarged by using the adjoining rooms which today house, among other masterpieces, the Venus de Milo.

Venus de Milo
Instead of the former royal apartments, the Louvre’s Galerie des Antiques welcomes visitors in search of masterpieces of Greek sculpture, perhaps the most famous of which is the Venus de Milo. Along with the Mona Lisa and the Victory of Samothrace, she is one of the three great ladies of the Louvre Museum. Its name comes from the Greek island of Milo where it was discovered in 1820. Acquired almost immediately by the Marquis de Rivière, then French ambassador to Greece, it was then offered to King Louis XVIII. The sovereign in turn offered it to the Louvre in March 1821.

As is the case with certain ancient statues, the Venus de Milo is made up of several blocks of marble from Paros. Her body was sculpted in two parts: the connection between the bust and the legs is barely visible at the hips, because it is concealed in the drape. The arms were also sculpted and then connected to the bust, as evidenced by the fixing hole at the level of the left shoulder. Other sculptures in the room show the connection system of the blocks carved separately and then assembled.

At the time of bringing it into the Louvre, it was planned to have the missing arms restored. But the idea is finally abandoned so as not to distort the work. This absence of arms makes it difficult to identify the statue: the Greek gods are often recognizable by natural objects or elements, called attributes, which they hold in their hands. At the time of its discovery, therefore hesitate on the identity of the goddess.

The Venus de Milo is believed to depict Aphrodite the Greek goddess of love, whose Roman counterpart was Venus. The sculpture is sometimes called the Aphrodite de Milos, due to the imprecision of naming the Greek sculpture after a Roman deity (Venus). Some scholars theorize that the statue actually represents the sea-goddess Amphitrite, who was venerated on the island in which the statue was found.

When the Venus de Milo entered the Louvre in 1821, it was the start of a series of numerous moves. Quite logically, it was first placed in the Antiquities gallery, in the room it occupies today. One can come and admire the Venus de Milo in a large room where she is almost alone, at the end of a long row. The rich red marble decor dates from the time of Napoleon I at the very beginning of the 19th century.

Winged Victory of Samothrace
The Winged Victory of Samothrace, or the Nike of Samothrace, is a votive monument originally found on the island of Samothrace, north of the Aegean Sea. It is a masterpiece of Greek sculpture from the Hellenistic era, dating from the beginning of the 2nd century BCE. It is composed of a statue representing the goddess Niké (Victory), whose head and arms are missing, and its base in the shape of a ship’s bow.

The total height of the monument is 5.57 meters including the socle; the statue alone measures 2.75 meters. The sculpture is one of a small number of major Hellenistic statues surviving in the original, rather than Roman copies. Winged Victory has been exhibited at the Louvre Museum in Paris, at the top of the main staircase, since 1884. The statue, in white Parian marble, depicts a winged woman, the goddess of Victory (Nikè), alighting on the bow of a warship.

The Nike is dressed in a long tunic (chitôn) in a very fine fabric, with a folded flap and belted under the chest. It was attached to the shoulders by two thin straps (the restoration is not accurate). The lower body is partially covered by a thick mantle rolled up at the waist. flies freely in the back. The mantle is falling, and only the force of the wind holds it on her right leg. The sculptor has multiplied the effects of draperies, between places where the fabric is plated against the body by revealing its shapes, especially on the belly, and those where it accumulates in folds deeply hollowed out casting a strong shadow, as between the legs.

The goddess advances, leaning on her right leg. The goddess is not walking, she was finishing her flight, her large wings still spread out backwards. The arms disappeared, but the right shoulder raised indicates that the right arm was raised to the side. With her elbow bent, the goddess made her hand a victorious gesture of salvation. The whole body is inscribed in a rectangular triangle, a simple but very solid geometric figure: it was necessary to support both the fulfilled shapes of the goddess, the accumulation of draperies, and the energy of movement.

Euphronios Krater
The “Krater of Euphronios” is a red-figure chalice- krater by the Attic painter Euphronios, attributed to the potter Euxitheos and dated to 515 – 510 BC.. Discovered at Cerveteri, the krater was part of the Campana collection until it was purchased in 1861 by the Louvre Museum. It has since been part of the collections of the Department of Greek, Etruscan and Roman Antiquities and bears the inventory number G 103.

Attic red-figure chalice-krater is a red – figure terracotta pottery dated to circa 515 – 510 BC., signed by the painter of Athens Euphronios, and attributed to the potter Euxithéos. The crater is 44.8 centimeters high and 55 centimeters in diameter. The main side depicts the struggle of Heracles and Antaeus in the presence of two female figures fleeing in the background, while the reverse depicts a contest. The position of Antaeus shows that the scene represented is the end of the fight, and that its outcome is near. The work is also called Crater of Antaeus.

Louvre Museum
The Louvre is the world’s most-visited museum, and a historic landmark in Paris, France. The Louvre Museum is a Parisian art and archeology museum housed in the former royal palace of the Louvre. Opened in 1793, it is one of the largest and richest museums in the world, but also the busiest with nearly 9 million visitors a year. It is the home of some of the best-known works of art, including the Mona Lisa and the Venus de Milo.

The museum is housed in the Louvre Palace, originally built in the late 12th to 13th century under Philip II. Remnants of the Medieval Louvre fortress are visible in the basement of the museum. Due to urban expansion, the fortress eventually lost its defensive function, and in 1546 Francis I converted it into the primary residence of the French Kings. The building was extended many times to form the present Louvre Palace.

The Musée du Louvre contains more than 380,000 objects and displays 35,000 works of art in eight curatorial departments with more than 60,600 square metres (652,000 sq ft) dedicated to the permanent collection. The Louvre exhibits sculptures, objets d’art, paintings, drawings, and archaeological finds. The Louvre Museum presents very varied collections, with a large part devoted to the art and civilizations of Antiquity: Mesopotamia, Egypt, Greece and RomeLogo indicating tariffs to quote that they; medieval Europe (setting around the ruins of the keep of Philippe-Auguste, on which the Louvre was built) and Napoleonic France are also widely represented.

The Louvre has a long history of artistic and historical conservation, from the Ancien Régime to the present day. Following the departure of Louis XIV for the Palace of Versailles at the end of the 17th century century, part of the royal collections of paintings and antique sculptures are stored there. After having housed several academies for a century, including that of painting and sculpture, as well as various artists housed by the king, the former royal palace was truly transformed during the Revolution into a “Central Museum of the Arts of the Republic”. It opened in 1793, exhibiting around 660 works, mainly from royal collections or confiscated from emigrant nobles or from churches. Subsequently, the collections will continue to be enriched by wartime spoils, acquisitions, sponsorships, legacies, donations, and archaeological discoveries.

Located in the 1st arrondissement of Paris, between the right bank of the Seine and the rue de Rivoli, the museum is distinguished by the glass pyramid of its reception hall, erected in 1989 in the Napoleon courtyard and which has become emblematic, while the equestrian statue of Louis XIV constitutes the starting point of the Parisian historical axis. Among his most famous plays are The Mona Lisa, The Venus de Milo, The Crouching Scribe, The Victory of Samothrace, and The Code of Hammurabi.