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Nike of Paionios


420 BC


Olympia, originally stood on a 10m high triangular pillar, beside the sacred way.




Paionios (of Mende)


Greek marble original

Subject Matter

Flying winged goddess. Set up as a dedication to the sanctuary of Zeus at Olympia.


Full and voluptuous curvaceous figure with rounded thighs and stomach. Very realistic knees and navel etc.

Pattern and Proportion

Winged (feathers).

Drapery folds on drapery and dress.

The hair is constructed and swept up onto the head.

Reconstructed giant feather – symbolises freedom.

Pose and Realism

Nike “hovers” on the top of her pillar, giving the impression that she has swooped down from the heavens.

The composition was originally balanced by a pair of large outspread wings (making it less “bottom heavy”).

Her clothes are pressed against her body and billow out behind her, giving the impression that she is moving at speed in the wind.

The billows provide physical support at the base of the statue – a “pyramid” of drapery.


1.      Catenary (U shaped) folds to emphasise the rounded stomach.

2.      Modelling lines (ridges running at right angles to the legs) use light and shadow to create a 3D effect and emphasise the shape of the legs beneath.

3.      Transparent drapery (“wet t-shirt”) on breasts and stomach. Left breast is bared but elsewhere little ridges of cloth are used to show the contours of the body underneath.

Drapery is illogical/implausible. Cloth across breasts, stomach and legs appears very fine like silk, yet when it billows out behind, it is thick and heavy like a woollen blanket.


Powerful, awe-inspiring, patriotic, erotic?