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Statue of Venus de Milo. Source: ssrbuzz / Adobe Stock.

Venus de Milo's Controversial Journey (Video)


The Venus de Milo, an armless ancient statue, has an intriguing story that spans centuries and involves a possible cover-up. Discovered by a Greek farmer in 1820 and sold to the French, the statue's imperfections, like its severed arms and missing foot, hinted at looting and age. The French art world, in turmoil at the time, sought to replace their lost treasures. The Venus de Milo's significance lies not only in its physical appearance but also in the circumstances surrounding its unearthing. Classical art was highly desirable during Napoleon's rule, symbolizing the greatness of Rome and Greece.

To overcome the challenge of the statue's Hellenistic origin conflicting with the desired Classical Period, the plinth conveniently disappeared before its display at the Louvre in 1821. The Louvre's director proclaimed the statue as definitively classical, supported by critics. Despite lacking a label, the Venus de Milo became associated with the goddess Venus and was positioned prominently in the gallery. The Louvre's branding campaign and manipulation of its classification solidified the statue's iconic status. It was only in 1951 that the Louvre acknowledged the statue's true Hellenistic roots.

Top image: Statue of Venus de Milo. Source: ssrbuzz / Adobe Stock.

By Robbie Mitchell

Robbie Mitchell's picture


I’m a graduate of History and Literature from The University of Manchester in England and a total history geek. Since a young age, I’ve been obsessed with history. The weirder the better. I spend my days working as a freelance... Read More

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