If you’ve visited the Martin House, we have no doubt you remember the dramatic 180 ft. view from the front door, down the pergola, and into the conservatory. Your eye is immediately drawn to the 9 ft. 3 in. replica of The Nike of Samothrace, sitting on a 3 ft. high concrete plinth. Frank Lloyd Wright incorporated copies of the classical statue in numerous commissions during his Prairie period, but the beautiful replica in the Martin House conservatory might be the architect’s most striking placement.
About the Original Greek Statue
The Nike of Samothrace, also called the Winged Victory of Samothrace, is a 2nd-century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike discovered on the Aegean island of Samothrace. Since 1884, it has been prominently displayed at the Louvre and is one of the most celebrated sculptures in the world.
The figure known as the Nike was originally part of a larger sculptural complex, incorporating a monument in the form of a ship’s prow thought to commemorate a naval victory by the city-state of Rhodes. Nike, the personification of victory in the Greek pantheon, is depicted at the moment she alights on the ship’s prow to mark the military triumph.
The figure’s head and arms have not been found to date, but one of the hands was found in 1950 (now on display at the Louvre).
The Martin House Original Cast
Frank Lloyd Wright specified a full-size cast of the Nike of Samothrace for the north niche of the conservatory of the Martin House. The cast was produced by P. P. Caproni & Brother of Boston, MA, in late 1906 or early 1907 and delivered to the Martins and installed in the conservatory shortly before May of 1907. The cast was probably the largest size that the Caproni catalog offered at the time (No. 529, 9 ft. 6 in.), costing approximately $200 (from a 1913 catalog). It was made of plaster, with burlap and steel rod reinforcement. Unfortunately, the original plaster sculpture did not remain intact, but a beautiful reproduction now stands in the same place.
The Reproduction Cast
The new, reproduction cast produced in 2006 / 2007 was created by the Giust Gallery / Skylight Studios, Inc. of Woburn, MA. This sculpture studio maintains the “Caproni Line” of casts, archiving many of P. P. Caproni and Brother’s original molds and casts for ongoing study and use.
This cast is 9 ft. 3 in. high, from the bottom of the built-in base to the highest point on the wing. The concrete plinth the statue is installed on is 3 ft. high from the floor. The total height from the floor to the top of the statue is 12 ft. 3 in. These dimensions are the same as the Martin’s original plaster cast. The original statue in the Louvre is somewhat larger at 10 ft. 6 in.
A Spotlight Item in the Museum Store
We like to think that Wright selected this piece to pay homage to Darwin’s success in the face of adversity. For this reason, the smaller replica sculptures available in the Museum Store are the perfect gift for anyone who has overcome obstacles – or simply worked tirelessly – to achieve dreams and goals. The pieces are made of hand-cast resin and are one of our most popular items.
The Museum Store offers a 10″ version, perfect for home or office and offered both in store and online. We invite you to visit the on site store to view a larger sculpture which sits at 26″ high, not sold online at this time. The store is open to the public during regular tour hours.