Terracotta statuette of Nike, the personification of victory

Period: Classical

Date: late 5th century B.C.

Culture: Greek

Medium: Terracotta

Dimensions: Overall: 7 x 2 7/8 x 2 3/4 in. (17.8 x 7.3 x 7 cm)

Classification: Terracottas

Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1907

Accession Number: 07.286.23


Three-dimensional representations of Nike, the winged goddess who brought victory in both battle and athletic contests, usually attempt to evoke flight or the moment of alighting. This flying figure once had wings attached to the slots in the back. It shows the goddess clothed in a thin linen chiton with smooth ribbonlike folds that cling to her voluptuous curves.
The use of harnesses to pull in the full volume of the chiton and peplos is well represented in Classical art. In most instances, shoulder harnesses intended to rein in the sleeves crisscross in the back and loop in a raglan line at the front. On this terracotta figure, however, the crossing of the straps forms an X, such as depicted in the fragment of Selene, goddess of the moon, from the east pediment of the Parthenon.