April 8: Venus de Milo

VenusWho has no arms and is famous around the world? Why, it’s the Aphrodite of Milos or as it’s better known, the Venus de Milo which was discovered on April 8, 1820.

It is believed that the Venus was carved between 130 and 100 BCE and an inscription on the statue’s plinth indicates it was the work of Alexandros of Antioch. Amazingly, the only thing known about Alexandros of Antioch is that he (presumably) carved the Venus; not even his birth or death is known.

So, who found the statue? Well, in 1820 a peasant farmer named Yorgos Kentrotas was exploring the ruins of the city of Milos on the Greek island of Milos and came across a buried niche. With the assistance of a French naval officer, Olivier Voutier, who was also exploring the island, Kentortas was able to excavate the niche and discovered the upper torso, draped legs and the inscribed plinth. Following its discovery, the statue was sold to the French government and placed on display at the Louvre Museum. Somehow the plinth was lost along the way.

But how did this sculpture by an almost unknown artist become so famous? The simple answer is propaganda. In 1815, five years prior to the discovery of the Venus de Milo, France were forced to return the Venus de’ Medici to Italy after it had been stolen by Napoleon Bonaparte’s forces. At the time, the Venus de’ Medici was considered one of the world’s finest works of classical sculpture and the loss of the statue was felt greatly by the French government. Naturally, when the Venus de Milo was found, France began promoting the Venus de Milo as an even finer work than the Venus de’ Medici. As you’ve probably never heard of the Venus de’ Medici, it’s safe to say that the French propaganda campaign worked.

Unsurprisingly, this artistic masterpiece has inspired a cocktail. The Venus de Milo is perhaps not the best drink for early Spring, but it’s still an interesting combination of hot chocolate and curacao. The name is partially inspired by the New Zealand hot chocolate brand Milo.

Venus de Milo

  • 1 ounce Curacao
  • 6 ounces hot chocolate

Pour Curacao into a mug of warm hot chocolate.

Tomorrow: A plane named for a “divine wind.”


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