Winged Nike Returns at Louvre

PARIS– The magnificent Winged Victory of Samothrace is back on its pedestal at the Louvre Museum in Paris after a restoration project that began last year.

“The 2,200-year-old  is back: cleaner, whiter and more complete…Since September, a team of eight archaeologists has worked meticulously on cleaning the representation of Nike, the Greek goddess of victory, to give it back the natural white shade of its marble after more than a century of dust and filth rendered it a dirty yellow. They also cleaned the base, designed as a prow of a ship, to restore the veined-grey color and the contrast with the Goddess that was also lost with time,” the Wall Street Journal reported this week.

The 29-ton statue, which returned on July 9 to the Grande Gallerie for visitors to admire, was discovered 150 years ago by French diplomat and amateur archaeologist Charles Champoiseau.

The Louvre attracts almost 10 million visitors a years and the Nike is one of its more popular attractions.

The statue was moved for the first time since World War II and it was the first time it was restored since its installation in the 19th century.

She originally stood “in Samothrace on a cliff towering over the esplanade of the Sanctuary of the Great Gods, a complex of a dozen temples dedicated to different deities popular in Antiquity. The religious center gradually lost worshipers with the rise of Christianity. The statue was probably made in the second century B.C. and fell from its pedestal in an earthquake centuries later, Mr. Laugier said,” according to WSJ.

Among the things the restorers discovered were microscopic traces of blue paint, including blue pigments on the wing. The Seraphim, the six-winged angels in the pendentives that support the dome of the Hagia Sophia in Constantinople have blue wings.