«The Venus de Milo is now established in the palace of the capital of the civilised world, in the Louvre in Paris ... Whoever enters the exhibition hall where the Venus stands, has the illusion that there is nothing else in the whole gigantic museum, beyond this statue of Venus. This impression, remains deeply engraved on ones mind».
Joseph Hadzidakis, 1927
On 8th April 1820, a day for which Milos was to become better known to the world, an inhabitant of Plaka, George Kentrotas, was digging in his field, in the area of the Ancient City. After a while, he uncovered a «small cave» which was later found to be part of the platform of the ancient stadium. Inside was half the statue of Aphrodite (Venus).
By chance, nearby, was the French officer Olivier Voutier with two sailors, who were visiting Milos for a few days on their ship Estafette. They were amazed at this find and they persuaded Kentrotas to search for the other half of the statue. This he did and after a short while, he came across two «Hermes» statues, one of Hermes as a youth and another of Hercules as an old man. With these was the other half of the Aphrodite.
Voutier, immediately realising the artistic value of the statue, made a sketch of it and advised both his commanding officer and Louis Brest, the French vice consul for Milos, to arrange for its purchase. Hence an initial agreement with Kentrotas was made.Meanwhile, the French consul in Constantinople was informed in a letter from Brest, and he received enthusiastic messages from Dumont d Ourville who had seen the statue on 19th April, and from Voutier who described it in the most favourable terms. As a result of all this information, the Consul decided to acquire the magnificent statue and so he sent the third secretary of the consulate, the Count de Marcellus, to Milos to negotiate the purchase. This he did, but not without some considerable complications.
The reason was that Kentrotas, under pressure from the elder of the island, had sold it to a certain papa-Makarios Vergis, acting on behalf of the dragoman (guide and translator) of the Turkish fleet, the Prince of Moldavia, Nicholas Mourouzis. On 1st March 1821, after the French Consul, the Marquis de Riviers, had finally managed to buy the statue, he made a gift of it to the King of France, Louis XVIII and it was placed in the Louvre, where it has been the object of ecstatic wonder of millions of people.
Since then, much has been written about this amazing artistic masterpiece. However there are still many unanswered questions which concern the specialists such as: When exactly was it created? What was the sculptors name? Was it part of a more complex statue including the god Aries? Why was it found in this particular place?... and many other questions.
It is certain, however, that it belongs to the Hellenistic Period, ie. after 323 B.C.,and most probably between 150 - 50 B.C. Moreover, it is most certainly a work of art revered throughout the world, which demonstrates the culture and creativity of the Ancient Greeks ... and in particular, of the Miloans.
(Photography: Lizzy Kalliga)
Historical information - Statue of Venus - More historical information - Economical history