This is a restored version of the heavily damaged original sculpture.
Modern plaster replica at much reduced scale (ca. 1/5th scale) and with face and wings restored, of a Greek marble original of ca. 421 BCE by a sculptor from Thrace, Paionios of Mende; the original, badly broken, is in the Olympia Museum.
This statue of the goddess of victory, Nike, was set up in the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia on a triangular pillar (H. 10 m) directly in front of the temple. An inscription on one of the lower blocks states, "The Messenians and Naupactians dedicated this to Olympian Zeus, a tithe from the spoils of war. Paionios of Mende made this, and won the commission to make the akroteria for the temple." The exact battle referred to is not known, but may honor the participation of Messenians and Naupaktians at the battle of Pylos (415 BCE). Who Paionios was is not known, but he has been suggested as the sculptor of the frieze from the Temple of Apollo at Bassae.
Raised on a high pillar, the goddess (H. 1.98 m) was shown sweeping through the air with the eagle of Zeus at her feet, her drapery pressed against her body by the force of the wind and flying out to form a dramatic frame behind her. With its modified "contrapposto" pose and "wet drapery" the piece illustrates trends which developed in Greek sculpture in the later 5th century BCE.
This sculpture has frequently been used on medals for athletic events, most notably for the Olympics. She is one of the very few original sculptures by the actual artist to have survived to the modern era. The badly broken original sculpture is displayed at the Olympia Museum near the Hermes by Praxiteles.
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