"You are so careful of your boy's morals, knowing how troublesome they may be, that you keep him away from the Venus of Milo only to find him in the arms of the scullery maid or someone much worse. You decide that the Hermes of Praxiteles and Wagner's Tristan are not suited for young girls; and your daughter marries somebody appallingly unlike either Hermes or Tristan solely to escape from your parental protection. You have not stifled a single passion nor averted a single danger: you have depraved the passions by starving them, and broken down all the defences which so effectively protect children brought up in freedom." (George Bernard Shaw)
|Jean-Baptiste Mauzaisse's ceiling panel of the Louvre's Salle des Bijoux, where the Venus is exhibited |
showing Father Chronos (Time) with his scythe, giving back the lost masterpiece.
8 April 1820: Today, 193 years ago, the young farmer Georgios Kentrotas, looking for construction material in the ruins of the old capital of the island of Melos, found the Aphrodite of Milos, better known as Venus de Milo.
Kentrotas alerted two French naval officers from the corvette Chevrette, already scanning the island for picturesque antiques while their ship conducted a hydrographic survey in the waters around the Cyclades islands. Lt Jules Dumont d'Urville tried to acquire and ship it to France immediately, but the sleek man-of-war couldn't hold the statue and while the local authorities tried to peddle the work of art to their nominal overlord at the Sublime Porte, the French ambassador, at the entreaty of Dumont d'Urville, managed to redirect the artefact from Constantinople to the Louvre, where the Venus de Milo still can be admired today.
Since the Venus de' Medici had to be returned to Italy after the fall of Napoleon in 1815, the enthusiasm for the new Venusian masterpiece at the Louvre was immense. It was claimed to be a hitherto unknown work of the great sculptor Praxiteles, even though the Venus de Milo did quite obviously not arise from the late Classical but the Hellenistic period of Greek art, at least 100 years after Praxiteles' death. However, since the Classical period was in much higher regard than the decadent late years of Greek art during the first half of the 19th century, a plinth, attributing the statue to one Alexandros of Antioch, was conveniently mislaid.