Winged Victory Essay

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This Classical sculpture, known as the Winged Victory, is attributed to the sculptor Paionios and was probably executed at some time during the 420s BC. During this period, the pressure of incessant warfare, outbreaks of plague, and the loss of its visionary strategist Pericles all struck blows to Athens’ confidence that were reflected in the style of its art. Though the technical mastery characteristic of High Classical sculptures is still evident, artworks of the 420s reflect the increasing focus on the role of the individual cut off from a community context, on the emotive drama or suffering, and on the desire to escape from bitter and brutal reality. The form of Victory embodies the sophisticated end result of the first, primitive attempts to represent motion in the ‘stepping out’ poses of Archaic kouroi. The contrapposto technique, emphasizing the subtle rotation of the hips, conveys the impression of movement realistically. Moreover, the motion of stepping down- a more sophisticated manoeuvre than simply striding forward- is executed masterfully, whilst maintaining the symmetry between parts of the body that characterizes High Classical sculpture. The pose is what is known as a rhythmos, a ‘pause-point’ in the process of motion, which conveys the immediacy of Victory’s progress in a balanced manner. Discobolos, frozen between the moment of coiling in and releasing out, is the High Classical paradigm of such a technique, designed to represent motion without sacrificing rational control. Thus, Victory portrays the emotive exhilaration of sudden triumph of ceaseless conflict and random catastrophes that sapped Athens’ confidence and deadened emotions. Just as the Lapith’s cloak in Parthenon Metope 27 suggests a tension between the action of pulling back and that of striking the Centaur, so Victory’s billowing cloak helps convey the tension between her

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