And here is the view from inside the foyer of the Louvre in Paris, looking up and out through the right-side-up pyramid. As you can see, it had not started raining yet, at the time I took this photo, so it’s a cheerier photo than the one I shared two days ago in my post about the Mona Lisa. Note the many stone statues and bas-relief sculptures on the building out there. (I’m excited to finally make use of the term bas-relief, which I learned in that art history class I took so long ago.)
The museum contained many other stone statues and bas-relief sculptures. I’d like to write about two of them today, which I found especially notable in their excellence. As it turns out, others throughout the years have agreed, for these are famous sculptures: the Winged Victory of Samothrace and the Venus de Milo. Have you heard of them?
Both of these beautiful and larger-than-life women were sculpted in the region and era of ancient Greece. Both, too, are missing their arms. Winged Victory has also lost her head; Venus somehow held onto hers.
Another similarity is that they were both entirely lost for centuries and only discovered, at different locations and in different years, in the 1800s. Winged Victory was discovered by an amateur archaeologist. Venus de Milo was discovered by a farmer. A farmer—can you imagine? I dig in my backyard all the time, and sometimes I unearth some pretty big stones . . . but nothing like that!
I was going to write to you about how I felt while viewing these lovely ladies in their voluptuously scant attire; but it seems that I have been preempted. Upon arriving home, I tried to explain my feelings about these sculptures to my sister-in-law, who immediately said this:
“Oh, like the Rilke poem.”
“Oh, what Rilke poem?”
My ignorance having once again been revealed, she pulled up the short poem on her phone. I asked her to read it aloud to me, which she did. Well, and yes. That was exactly how I felt; that was exactly what I was trying to express. Holy Aphrodite! Please read this poem: “Archaic Torso of Apollo” by Rainer Maria Rilke.
I hadn’t been anywhere close to expressing this to my sister-in-law. But yes, this is what I was trying to say. (With the exception, of course, that the poem is about a male statue, while I was looking at female statues.)
Did you click the link and read the poem? Best to do it before reading on: “Archaic Torso of Apollo” by Rainer Maria Rilke.
While in the Louvre, I made sure to view the Winged Victory from the ideal “three-quarters on the left” angle, which was dazzling. (This is shown in the second photo here.) Later, while walking slowly around Venus de Milo, pausing here and there to view her from all angles, I think I may have unintentionally walked between the statue and a young woman’s camera. I think this not because I saw the camera or the young woman, but because I heard her mutter something indiscernible. And then her companion, another young woman, said in American English, “I’m really glad you said that. I’m really glad you said that!” and they both laughed loudly, but self-consciously. No one else was nearby.
I’m most likely just being paranoid; but perhaps they really were talking about a mistake on my part. I would have been happy to apologize profusely, had I been confident that I really had done something inadvertently impolite. Instead, I did not look at them, I said nothing to them, and I moseyed away. But truly, I would not be surprised if I had stepped in front of a camera, because I was having a moment.
I must. Yes, I really must.