The Winged Victory of Samothrace sits atop the Daru staircase in the Louvre, in Paris.
The Winged Victory of Samothrace is also called the Nike of Samothrace, as the figure represents the Greek goddess Nike. It dates from around the 2nd century BC and was only discovered in 1863 in Samothrace. Since 1884, the sculpture has remained in the Louvre, only ever leaving the grounds once, during World War II. The figure of Nike stands on the prow of a ship, as the sculpture was thought to symbolize a naval victory. This sculpture is an exemplar of the Hellenistic style of Greek sculpture and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world. The sculpture was initially displayed without its wings or pedestal and over years, parts were added resulting in the sculptural arrangement we can see today. The right wing of the figure is a plaster copy of the original left wing. The accompanying image shows the original marble wing and the eloquent layering of drapery. The left leg of the figure, visible in the photo, is in fact not bare but rather covered in a light cloth, giving the impression of a female body underneath. This sculpture was originally positioned in a niche above a theatre in the Sanctuary of the Gods. A plaster replica stands in its place in a museum located in the sculpture’s original setting.
Did you know?:
In 1999 there was a campaign in Samothrace to have the Winged Victory returned to its native island. This campaign went as far as a formal letter signed by the mayor of the island and sent to Greek politicians asking them to reclaim the statue. Since 1999, there have been multiple articles written about statues wanted return.