Monday, May 21, 2018

Winged Victory - Gift of the Class of 1915

Known simply as "Winged Victory" for the majority of its time on campus, the armless, headless, statue of Nike (as she was known in Greek) or more properly, The Winged Victory of Samothrace (as the original is called by the Louvre) is an example of a plaster cast statue, created from an original ancient marble statue. The method of production of this type of statue has been discussed here before and in that regard, this statue is no different.
Plaster cast statue of Winged Victory located in the Forney Building, 2018 (photo by author)
The Winged Victory of Samothrace original is located in the Louvre. It was discovered in 1863 on the island of Samothrace by Charles Champoiseau and is believed to have been created about 190 BC, possibly to commemorate a major Rhodian naval victory. 1
The Winged Victory of Samothrace original statue located in the Louvre 2
 UNCG's Winged Victory arrived in 1915, as a gift of the graduating class. Although it's impossible to say where the Class of 1907 bought the statue of Minerva, Winged Victory has its maker's stamp clearly visible.
"Caproni Casts" maker's mark on UNCG's Winged Victory
Caproni Borthers was a well-regarded plaster cast statue manufacturer in the days when these type of statues were in vogue. On page 18 of their 1911 catalog, Winged Victory statues are available in a variety of sizes and prices.
1911 Caproni Brothers catalog, page 18 3
Much like the Class of 1907 Minerva statue, Winged Victory has had a long journey on UNCG's campus. The statue was presented during class day ceremonies in May, 1915, by the senior class and stood for the next 35 years in the old Student's Building (no longer extant), the same building as Minerva.

Image of Winged Victory in the Student's Building from 1929 Pine Needles (yearbook)
The old Student's Building was razed in 1950, leaving Winged Victory without a home. The statue next showed up in a garage behind the "old Scarborough House" which was located about where the Ferguson Building now stands. Winged Victory was saved by Dr. Jim Cooley who was quoted as saying, "One day, I believe some sort of maintenance crew came around and was about to take the statue and all of the contents of the garage out to the dump." Luckily, Dr. Cooley had recognized the importance of the statue, partially due to the small plaque at the base of the statue, identifying it as a gift of the Class of 1915.



Plaque that helped save the statue, identifying it as a gift of the Class of 1915 (photo by author)

Dr. Cooley had the statue moved into his office at the Scarborough House and when his office moved to 313 McIver, the statue went with him. The statue suffered some damage while in McIver from a leaking roof and fallen ceiling tiles and when Dr. Cooley was about to leave campus for research leave in 1985, a group of concerned UNCG staff members had the statue transferred to the basement of Alumni House.
Winged Victory's next location was possibly Weatherspoon Gallery, where it was stored until a permanent home was found. Sometime between 1985 and 1987, the statue was placed in the lobby of the Forney Building where it resides to this day. 4
In 1987, Winged Victory finally received some much needed maintenance and was restored by Simone Spicer-Raab (Class of 1987).  5

1- https://www.louvre.fr/en/oeuvre-notices/winged-victory-samothrace
2- https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nike_of_Samothrake_Louvre_Ma2369_n4.jpg Public Domain image 
3- The 1911 Caproni Brothers catalog can be viewed online.
4- Today on Campus Wednesday, September 25, 1985 No. 59
5- Campus Weekly Sept. 21-Oct. 5, 1987, page 1

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