Nike adjusting her sandal, Athens, Greece, 410 BCE

The following is a relief found in the Temple of Athena Nike.

relief of Nike adjusting her sandal

Temple of Athena Nike

The Temple of Athena Nike is an example of an ionic temple, dedicated to the goddess Athena (the temple also references victories over Persians, such as in its name and in a frieze that depicted a decisive battle). Inside, the parapet of the temple celebrates the goddess and victory, and Nike’s images is repeated several times in different positions. The relief pictured above is one such example.

The relief depicts Nike adjusting her sandal— an awkward position that the sculptor rendered elegant and graceful. The artist displays high technical skill. Nike’s body is sculpted in a naturalistic manner and the drapery covering her body seems to be almost transparent, as if drenched in water. The drapery seems to stick to Nike’s body and through the drapery, one can see the perfectly-rendered form of the human body. However, the artist was interested in much more than simply depicting the young female form. He also included intricate and realistic detail of the patterns in the drapery folds.

I am so impressed by this statue. Not only did the artist perfect sculpt the human body, he perfectly sculpted the human body under a layer of drapery. The drapery and the body display the high level of technical skill. To me, it is uncanny how life-like and realistic this sculpture of Nike is. Being a high relief, the sculpture comes to life and seems to emerge from the marble!

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