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Work Artemis with a Doe

Department of Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities: Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Artemis with a doe, called the "Diana of Versailles"

© 2011 Musée du Louvre / Thierry Ollivier

Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities
Classical Greek Art (5th-4th centuries BC)

Author(s):
Martinez Jean-Luc

This work was a gift from Pope Paul IV to the French king Henri II, and one of the first ancient statues to arrive in France. The goddess - Diana to the Romans, Artemis to the Greeks -was Apollo's twin sister. The goddess of chastity, and a tireless hunter whose arrows could punish the misdeeds of men, she is depicted here accompanied by a deer. The statue is based on a fourth-century BC Greek bronze attributed to Leochares.

The modern history of the work

A gift from Pope Paul IV to Henri II (1556), this celebrated statue adorned a number of French royal residences. In the sixteenth century, it featured in the Jardin de la Reine at the palace of Fontainebleau. In 1602, Henri IV moved it to the Louvre, where it was displayed in the Hall of Antiquities (now the Salle des Caryatides). Under the reign of Louis XIV, it was sent to the palace of Versailles, where it was shown in the Grande Galerie. In 1798, the statue returned to the Louvre, by order of the Convention. It has been copied, cast and imitated many times in modern Europe, in engravings, ceramics and small bronzes.

A Classical work from the fourth century BC

Artemis, the Greek goddess of hunting and twin sister to Apollo, is shown here in action, with her tunic (the chiton) tucked up to her knees to make it easier to pursue her quarry. A cape (the himation) passing over her left shoulder, clings closely to her form. The rhythmic, Classical yet naturalistic draperies, and the goddess's rather aloof majesty, allow us to date the original statue - now lost - to the second Classical period of the fourth century BC.

A copy of an original statue by Leochares

It is tempting to date the Greek model for the statue more precisely, by attributing it to the great fourth-century BC master Leochares, a celebrated Athenian sculptor, whose work is known to us only through ancient literary and epigraphic sources. This hypothesis is based on the striking similarities between the Diana of Versailles and the famous Apollo Belvedere in the Vatican.

Bibliography

Favier (S.), " A propos de la restauration par Barthélémy Prieur de la "Diane à la biche" ", in La Revue du Louvre et des musées de France, 1970, n 2, p. 71-77
Pfrommer (M.), Leochares ? Die hellenistischen schuhe der Artemis Versailles, Isteinbuler Mitteilungen, 34, 1984, p. 171-182, pl. 29-30

Technical description

  • Artemis with a doe, called the "Diana of Versailles"

    Roman, Imperial (1st-2nd century AD)

    Provenance: Italy (Nemi?)

  • Marble

    H. 2 m

  • Gift from Pope Paul IV to Henri II (1556). The statue adorned the queen’s garden at the Château de Fontainebleau. In 1602, Henri IV had it transferred to the Louvre, where it was exhibited in the Salle des Antiquités (today the Salle des Caryatides). Under the reign of Louis XIV, it was transferred to Versailles, where it was displayed in the Grande Galerie. In 1798, it was returned to the Louvre, in compliance with a decree issued by the Convention.

    Inventaire MR 152 (n° usuel Ma 589)

  • Greek, Etruscan, and Roman Antiquities

    Sully wing
    Ground floor
    Salle des Caryatides
    Room 17

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