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Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo by…
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Disarmed: The Story of the Venus de Milo

by Gregory Curtis

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A great read, tracing the Venus de Milo from her unearthing on the Greek island of Melos through the struggles to identify/date the statue. Curtis provides a great overview of political, cultural and artistic history, perfect for the interested layperson. I especially liked the rare but well-deserved swipes at academia and its penchant for reading whatever it wants into the statue's history -- even if the facts are dead wrong (as in the canard of a physical struggle over the statue between French and Turkish forces). I especially enjoyed reading this soon after reading [The Linguist and the Emperor], which covers similar terrain -- 19th century unearthing and interpretation of an antiquity by the French. That book was so scattershot it was hard to read. This one was hard to put down. ( )
  keywestnan | Aug 22, 2008 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0375415238, Hardcover)

The Venus de Milo is both a great work of art and a popular icon, and from the moment of her discovery in 1820 by a French naval ensign, she has been an object of controversy. In Disarmed, Gregory Curtis gives us the “life” of this magnificent representation of life.

Using memoirs, letters, and official accounts, Curtis takes us up close to events. We see the Venus unearthed by a farmer digging for marble building blocks on the Aegean island of Melos at the moment a young officer and amateur archeologist looking for “relics” happened by. We also see how the island’s elders, excited by the Frenchman’s offer of money, fought with their Turkish overlords over who owned her. We learn how the French pressed their claim and then, outwitting other suitors, brought her to the Louvre, where she became an immediate celebrity.

A passionate researcher, Curtis shows us Europe in the early nineteenth century, caught in the grip of a classical art mania and a burgeoning romantic Hellenism. He sketches a tale of rich historical intrigue, revealing just how far the Louvre was prepared to go to prove it had the greatest classical find of the era. He tells how this resulted in two magisterial scholars, one French and one German, battling over the statue’s origins and authenticity for decades.

Finally, expanding on accepted research, Curtis offers his own ideas of who carved the Venus and when, and how she appeared in her original setting on the island of Melos. He ends with a tribute to the statue’s beauty and eternal appeal.

A delightful, illuminating history of one of the most famous artworks of all time.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:00:49 -0400)

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"The Venus de Milo is both a great work of art and a popular icon, and from the moment of her discovery in 1820 by a French naval ensign, she has been an object of controversy. In Disarmed, Gregory Curtis gives us the "life" of this magnificent representation of life." "Using memoirs, letters, and official accounts, Curtis takes us up close to events. We see the Venus unearthed by a farmer digging for marble building blocks on the Aegean island of Melos at the moment a young officer and amateur archeologist looking for "relics" happened by. We also see how the island's elders, excited by the Frenchman's offer of money, fought with their Turkish overlords over who owned her. We learn how the French pressed their claim and then, outwitting other suitors, brought her to the Louvre, where she became an immediate celebrity." "A passionate researcher, Curtis shows us Europe in the early nineteenth century, caught in the grip of a classical art mania and a burgeoning romantic Hellenism. He sketches a tale of rich historical intrigue, revealing just how far the Louvre was prepared to go to prove it had the greatest classical find of the era. He tells how this resulted in two magisterial scholars, one French and one German, battling over the statue's origins and authenticity for decades." "Finally, expanding on accepted research, Curtis offers how own ideas of who carved the Venus and when, and how she appeared in her original setting on the island of Melos. He ends with a tribute to the statue's beauty and eternal appeal."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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