1 - Statue

The statue of the Winged Victory of Samothrace consists of several blocks of marble, carved separately and then assembled.

This technique, used by Greek sculptors for the head and other protruding parts of the statue as early as the Archaic period, began to be used for the body itself in the Hellenistic period.

The statue thus consists of one large block from beneath the breasts to the feet, topped by a smaller block for the upper torso and head.

close cartel

2 - Wings

The wings, carved from two large marble slabs and attached to the back of the statue with no external support (the reinforcements are modern), created a tricky problem of balance.

The sculptor solved the problem by carving the outer face of each wing in one tier and slotting them into a sort of console decorated with feathers sculpted at the back of the main block forming the body.

Moreover, a slight downward slope in the horizontal surface on which the wings rested meant that their weight was borne by the body.

This remarkably ingenious solution meant that the sculptor was able to use cantilevering in a large marble work, although the technique was normally only possible in bronze.

close cartel

3 - Arms and feet

The arms and feet were carved separately then added to the statue.

close cartel

4 - Piece of drapery

Several pieces of drapery were carved separately, including the drapery raised by the wind at the rear.

close cartel

5 - Boat

On a rectangular base consisting of six adjoining slabs stand seventeen blocks, originally held together with metal pins, forming three horizontal courses, rising slightly towards the front.

close cartel

7 - The rear of the base

The course of the oar boxes at the back consists of two adjacent blocks, and the deck of three.

The central block at the rear of the ship’s deck is missing. This is because Champoiseau left it on Samothrace, where it remains today, broken in two.

This block, weighing more than two metric tons, originally acted as a counterbalance for the oar boxes extending from the ship’s sides.

It also has the cavity in which the base of the statue was originally placed.

close cartel

6 - The front of the keel

Only a small part at the back of the long block depicting the front of the keel rests on the base.

To prevent it from tipping over, the statue was positioned with its center of gravity directly over the rear of the block, maintaining it in place with its 2.5 to 3 metric tons of marble.

This complex system was designed to give the stone keel the natural appearance and dynamic forward thrust of a genuine wooden ship.

The statue thus played an essential role in maintaining the balance of the work as a whole. It could not be shifted without the entire front of the ship collapsing.

close cartel