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Diane of Versailles

by Leocares

This marble sculpture is located in the center of the banquet hall of King Henry II. It was gifted to Henry by Pope Paul 4th in 1556! This means that we need friends like the Pope to receive such wonderful gifts. As Diana, the goddess of hunting is in the center of the room, it highlights her special story with the King of France, who was a hunter and who probably enjoyed this sculpture a lot.

The Greeks call Diana: Artemis. Its attributes such as its bow and arrow, a deer and the crown of the half-moon also help us to identify her. The sculpture has been moved over the centuries, being first hosted at Fontainebleau. When it was exhibited in Versailles, it became known as 'Diane de Versailles'. Later, it was taken over by the revolutionaries and became part of the Louvre collection in 1798. The details are spectacular. The sense of immediacy that the artisan captures can be seen in her pose and clothing. Diana's dress catches a gust of wind as it moves through an imaginary forest.

The name of this room, the Caryatids room, is taken from the four imposing columns of ladies holding up the intricately carved balcony in one of the entrances to the hall. Here is where the musicians played music to entertain the king's guests.

You can also see similar elegant figures on the facades of classical Greek temples. Over time their arms have been lost, while here, in Henry's room, these ladies' arms have been cut off deliberately to imitate the original Greek works'.