Nike adjusting her sandal – Classical art (5th century BC)

Capture d’écran 2015-07-10 à 08.22.14

© Marsyas / Wikimedia

This relief, named Nike Adjusting her Sandal, was part of the temple of Athena Nike’s south side parapet (409/6 BC). Nowadays, it is exhibited in the Acropolis Museum in Athens.

The goddess Nike is tying or untying her sandal. Her position is very complex. Indeed, her torso is in a three-quarter position, her left leg is between the three-quarter and the profile while her right leg is in profile. She is haloed by her wings, forming two curves accompanying her arm. The goddess’ wings amplify her back’s curve and emphasize her head. Since the relief was painted, the visual effect might have been more striking. Her complex position is masked by the drapes, which are a Mannerist effect. Her chiton (light clothing) is see through. She has a himation (heavier clothing, like a mantle) on her left arm in a roll. The himation can be seen again on the right thigh and would fall down if the thigh was not held up. There is a contrast between the translucent chiton and the thicker himation. There are several kinds of folds (basin, stick, sickle folds). The chiton is a voluminous wet-drapery on the torso, then narrow and thin on Nike’s legs. The chiton falls down from her right shoulder. The volume of the naked shoulder corresponds to the breast. Folds with sharp edges create a line from one breast to another. From the left breast, another fold falls on the belly, animating the area. A whole network of lines emphasize the belly.

This relief is considered one of the most skillfully executed. The head was facing the viewer which gave more presence to the relief. We also should consider the polychromy, which underlined the whole piece. This plate is also very well preserved, which helps to make it famous.


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