Gargoyles & The Winged VictoryMonday, December 28, 2009
Just like anybody else I dream. And just like everybody else when I wake up in the morning most of those vivid dreams have faded and only bits and pieces of them remain. I am unlike Graham Greene who kept a notebook and pen handy by his bedside table. During the night it would seem that he could will himself awake during interesting dreams and he would jot down the jist of them before memory failed.
This morning I woke up, and just for once I could remember the dream. The dream, which was about Paris may have come to my sleeping imagination because I am reading a Barbara Cleverly Commander Joe Sandilands novel, Foly Du Jour which is set in Paris in 1927. The dream involved a faded, blurry Winged Victory and a Notre Dame gargoyle. I went to my files and looked around. I wasn't too surprised what I found in one six-frame negative. Three of the the frames were of the Winged Victory at the Louvre and the other three were the gargoyles on the roof of Notre Dame. While the pictures are not absolutely sharp (I used Kodak Infrared film) the are not blurred at all. But the dream indeed was accurate as to the relationship between them.
Winged Victory of Samothrace
The Winged Victory of Samothrace is the name given in English to a statue of the Greek goddess Nike (Victory), found on the island of Samothrace (Greek Samothraki) in 1863 by the French archaeologist Charles Champoiseau. It is now in the Louvre, Paris. In Greek it is called the Niki tis Samothrakis (Νίκη της Σαμοθράκης) and in French La Victoire de Samothrace). There are numerous copies around the world. The Victory is considered one of the great surviving masterpieces of Greek sculpture, even though it is missing its head and arms. It is by an unknown artist and is thought to date from about 190 BC (though some scholars date it as early as 250 BC or as late as 180 BC). A partial inscription on the base of the statue includes the word "Rhodhios" (Rhodes), indicating that the statue was commissioned to celebrate a naval victory by Rhodes, at that time the most powerful maritime state in the Aegean. The Samothrace Archaeological Museum, however, says that the statue was an offering donated by the Macedonian general Demetrius I Poliorcetes after his naval victory at Cyprus. This would date the statue to 288 BC at the latest.
The statue originally stood on the prow of a stone ship, probably as part of an outdoor altar, and was intended to represent the goddess as she descended from the skies to bring victory to the fleet. Before losing her arms she had been blowing a victory paean on a trumpet. In 1950 one of the statue's hands was found on Samothrace and is now in a glass case in the Louvre next to the podium on which the statue stands. The statue shows a mastery of form and movement which has impressed critics and artists since its discovery. The Victory is one of the Louvre's great treasures, and it is displayed in the most dramatic fashion, at the head of the sweeping Daru Staircase. The loss of the head and arms, while regrettable in a sense, is held by many to enhance the statue's depiction of the supernatural.