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Milon of Croton

Sculpture, 1754

Description of the artwork «Milon of Croton»

Milon of Croton was a legendary Greek athlete from the Italian city of Croton. He lived in the 7th century BC. and is mentioned in the works of Herodotus, Pindar, Plutarch, Ovid. He possessed such outstanding physical abilities that they talked about him: if Milon Krotonsky could have ceded to anyone, then only Hercules. Croton won six times at the Olympic Games (in wrestling competitions), seven at the Pythian, nine at the Nemean Games and ten at the Isthim.

Not only the writers of antiquity were impressed by Milon Krotonsky. He was also the idol of Porthos in The Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas:

- I heard- said Porthos, - that a certain Milon of Krotonsky was doing amazing things: he pulled his head together with a rope and tearing it with the movement of his head muscles, knocked the bull off his feet with a fist and carried it on his shoulders, stopped the horse running behind its hind legs and the like. Upon learning about this, I did the same thing at Pierrefone as Milon, except for one thing: I could not tear the rope with my head.

The French sculptor Etienne Maurice Falconet was 28 years old when he decided to enter the Academy of Fine Arts. As an introductory work, Falcone performed a sculptural group of gypsum, which captures a dying episode from the life of Milon of Croton. When the hero was already far from young, but still very ambitious, he decided to tear up a stump with his hands, which the axes of a dozen lumberjacks could not handle before. Milon was not lucky twice: his hand was pinched between pieces of wood and at that moment a lion attacked the hero who was deprived of the opportunity to escape or fight.

«The attacking beast knocked him to the ground, - describes the work of Falcone, art historian Zinaida Zaretskaya, - Milon crushed his free hand with the weight of his body, the other remained pinched. He could not rise, his head threw back, veins swelled around his neck, an expression of unbearable torment appeared on his face. It seems that cries of pain, horror, impotent rage burst from the open mouth. The sharp contrasts of light and shadow create a feeling of ultimate tension of the body, emphasize the latest efforts of a powerful, but perishing in the struggle of man".

The French Academy accepted the emotional and highly realistic sculpture coldly. Falcone was reproached for excessive naturalism and that he allegedly stole the idea from the "French Michelangelo"Pierre Puget(this 17th century sculptor also hashis"Milon of Croton"). The title of Academician Falconet will be awarded only after 10 years, when he again repeats the sculpture of Milon of Croton - but will make it not of plaster, but of marble.Plaster MilonNow it is kept in the State Hermitage, and its marble double - in the Louvre.

The question arises: why did the sculptor again return to this plot, which for the first time the public and criticism underestimated, and did not come up with something else to obtain the title of academician? There is every reason to believe that the plot of Milon of the Croton Falcon, familiar with ancient philosophy and literature, had an autobiographical meaning. The hero entering into an unequal battle is himself, born in a poor family, on the one hand in which farmers prevailed, and on the other - shoemakers. His situational enemies, the stump and the lion, are the difficulties he has to face when he paves his way in art. And, unlike Milon of Crotonsky, in his final duel, the sculptor Falconet, though not immediately, manages to achieve something. For the marble "Milon" he receives the title of academician - which means the right to a free workshop in the Louvre, extraordinary royal orders and even a noble title. Not bad for the son of a Parisian joiner.

By the way, if you want to know what Etienne Maurice Falcone looked like, take a look at his sculpture. The author provided Milon of Croton with his own features. He informed his historian friend Levek that “the head is common because I did it with my".
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About the artwork

Art form: Sculpture

Materials: Marble

Date of creation: 1754

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