Thursday April 8, 2021’s Smile of the Day: Venus de Milo

On this Day:

In 1820, the famous ancient Greek statue, Venus de Milo was discovered on the Aegean island of Milos.

The Venus de Milo is an ancient Greek statue and one of the most famous works of ancient Greek sculpture. Initially it was attributed to the sculptor Praxiteles, but based on an inscription that was on its plinth, the statue is now thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch.

Created sometime between 130 and 100 BC, the statue is believed to depict Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love and beauty, although some scholars claim it is the sea-goddess Amphitrite, venerated on Milos. It is a marble sculpture, slightly larger than life size at 203 cm (6 ft 8 in) high. Part of an arm and the original plinth were lost following the statue’s discovery. It is currently on permanent display at the Louvre Museum in Paris. The statue is named after Aphrodite’s Roman name, Venus, and the Greek island of Milos, where it was discovered.

Upon its discovery in 1820, the Venus de Milo was considered to be a significant artistic finding, but did not gain its status as an icon until later on. The exact circumstances in which she was discovered, however, are uncertain and will probably always remain this way. But, we do know that at this time, the Louvre and in turn, French art as a whole, had suffered great losses when Napoleon’s looted art collection was returned to their countries of origin. The museum lost some of its most iconic pieces, like Rome’s Laocoon and His Sons and Italy’s Venus de Medici. The hole that this left in French culture allowed the perfect path for the Venus de Milo to become an international icon. Based on early drawings, the plinth that had been detached from the statue was known to have dates on it, which revealed that it was created after the Classical period, which was the most desirable artistic period. This caused the French to hide the plinth, in an effort to conceal this fact before her introduction to the Louvre in 1821. She held a prime spot in the gallery, and became iconic, mostly due to the Louvre’s branding campaign and emphasis on her importance in order to regain national pride. This is why she is the most notable and universally known Venus statue.

The great fame of the Venus de Milo during the nineteenth century owed much to a major propaganda effort by the French authorities. In 1815, France had returned the Venus de’ Medici (also known as the Medici Venus) to the Italians, after it had been looted by Napoleon Bonaparte. The Medici Venus, regarded as one of the finest classical sculptures in existence, caused the French to promote the Venus de Milo as a greater treasure than that which they recently had lost. The statue was praised dutifully by many artists and critics as the epitome of graceful female beauty. However, Pierre-Auguste Renoir was among its detractors, labelling it a “big gendarme” (per Wikipedia).

First, a Story:

One dark and stormy night….a comet flies past Earth. This comet carried a spell, and after it flew past the world, it caused all statues to come to life. However, under the spell the statutes were solely focused on destroying every country in the world.

No nation was left safe from this attack.  Gargoyles attacked France. The Statue of Liberty led a revolution against America. Michelangelo’s David led the charge towards Italy.

As the war of man versus statutes waged on, a group of statutes, led by the Venus de Milo, were focused on taking over the United Kingdom, intent on overthrowing the English government.

As the statues were preparing to attack, the British generals noticed something. None of the statues had any weapons! No guns, knives, armor or anything.

After this realization, one British general turns to another, points at the leader of the statues and says,

“Don’t worry; she’s ‘armless.”

Second, a Song:

Harry Lillis “Bing” Crosby Jr. (May 3, 1903 – October 14, 1977) was an American singer, comedian and actor. The first multimedia star, Crosby was one of the most popular and influential musical artists of the 20th century. He was a leader in record sales, radio ratings, and motion picture grosses from 1930 to 1954. He made over seventy feature films and recorded more than 1,600 songs.

His early career coincided with recording innovations that allowed him to develop an intimate singing style that influenced many male singers who followed him, including Perry Como, Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Dick Haymes, Elvis Presley, and John Lennon.

Yank magazine said that he was “the person who had done the most for the morale of overseas servicemen” during World War II. In 1948, American polls declared him the “most admired man alive,” ahead of Jackie Robinson and Pope Pius XII. Also in 1948, Music Digest estimated that his recordings filled more than half of the 80,000 weekly hours allocated to recorded radio music.

Crosby won the Academy Award for Best Actor for his performance in Going My Way (1944), and was nominated for its sequel The Bells of St. Mary’s (1945) opposite Ingrid Bergman, becoming the first of six actors to be nominated twice for playing the same character. In 1963, Crosby received the first Grammy Global Achievement Award. He is one of 33 people to have three stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the categories of motion pictures, radio, and audio recording. He was also known for his collaborations with longtime friend Bob Hope, starring in the Road to… films from 1940 to 1962.

Crosby influenced the development of the postwar recording industry. After seeing a demonstration of a German broadcast quality reel-to-reel tape recorder brought to America by John T. Mullin, he invested $50,000 in a California electronics company called Ampex to build copies. He then convinced ABC to allow him to tape his shows. He became the first performer to pre-record his radio shows and master his commercial recordings onto magnetic tape.

Through the medium of recording, he constructed his radio programs with the same directorial tools and craftsmanship (editing, retaking, rehearsal, time shifting) used in motion picture production, a practice that became an industry standard. In addition to his work with early audio tape recording, he helped to finance the development of videotape, bought television stations, bred racehorses, and co-owned the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball team.

Here is My Heart is a 1934 American musical comedy film directed by Frank Tuttle and starring Bing Crosby, Kitty Carlisle, and Roland Young. Based on the play La Grande-duchesse et le garçon d’étage by Alfred Savoir, the film is about a famous singer who pretends to be a penniless waiter to get close to the woman of his dreams, a European princess.

“Love Is Just Around the Corner” is a popular song with music by Lewis E. Gensler and lyrics by Leo Robin, published in 1934. It was introduced in the 1934 Bing Crosby film Here is My Heart and was also included in the 1935 film Millions in the Air.

Crosby recorded the song on November 9, 1934 with Georgie Stoll and his Orchestra for Decca Records and it reached the No. 8 position in the USA charts of the day. He recorded the song again in 1954 for his album Bing: A Musical Autobiography.

The song has become a standard, recorded by many artists. Early recordings were made by Bing Crosby in 1934 and Robert Cummings the next year (per Wikipedia).

Here is Bing Crosby performing “Love Is Just Around the Corner” from the film “Here is My Heart”. I hope you enjoy this!


Thought for the Day:

“Adding sound to movies would be like putting lipstick on the Venus de Milo.” – Mary Pickford


Have a great day!

Dave & Colleen

© 2021 David J. Bilinsky and Colleen E. Bilinsky

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