Under the spell of the goddess
by Vanessa Marcolla
Brescia together with the city of Bergamo will be the capital of culture in 2023.
The WINGED VICTORY, will be the symbol of Brescia, the LEONESS OF ITALY.
It is a bronze statue of the imperial age, 195 cm high, one of the most important in Italy. It was the archaeologist Giovanni Labus who interpreted it as a representation of the Goddess Victoria.
After an accurate restoration that lasted two years and was supervised by the Opificio delle Pietre dure of Florence, the winged Victory returned to Brescia to what was once its home: the Capitoline Temple. It was in the perimeter wall of the left cell that, on June 20, 1826, it was found with its arms detached and the large wings near its head.
In the course of its history, the Winged Victory was moved several times: in the first war, after the defeat of Caporetto, it was taken to Rome at Palazzo Venezia because the underground of today’s city museum, SANTA GIULIA, was not considered safe. It returned to the city in 1932.
The Second World War brought it together with other treasures of the city in the park of Villa Fenaroli (in the province of Brescia). In 1948 it was exhibited in Zurich in the exhibition dedicated to the masterpieces of Lombard art.
It was a source of inspiration for literature and not only: magazines and nineteenth-century tourist guides mention it for its beauty. It was also an attraction of the Grand Tour of cultured travelers.
Its iconography was reproposed in various ways and in various materials: plaster casts, engravings, lithographs, paintings….
During the Renaissance we find it in the grandiose triumphal arch designed in 1512 by Albrecht Dürer for Maximilian of Habsburg.
Under Fascism, the winged Victory was used as an ideological and celebratory symbol by the regime.
From the Risorgimento to the twentieth century, it inspired wartime heroism.
During the Risorgimento, Brescia, the “Lioness of Italy”, a city of war and arms, fought with indomitable courage against the Austrian yoke during the insurrection of the TEN DAYS.
To define the city for the first time “Lioness of Italy” was in one of his songs the Renaissance poet Aleardo Aleardi.
There were also many requests for reproductions: the first was requested in 1835 by the Prince of Metternich.
Napoleon III on the eve of the battle of Solferino wanted a copy to exhibit in Paris. He got 3 of them! a plaster cast kept in the stables of Versailles, the statue in the Louvre and it is said that the 3, should cheer his residence in avenue Montaigne.
In the plaster gallery of the Freien Univeristȁt in Berlin, there is a plaster copy of Winged Victory acquired in 2014 by the Academy of Fine Arts in Dresden.
The Brescian poet Cesare Arici, a fervent patriot, member and secretary of the Ateneo di Scienze, Letteratura e Arti, dedicated one of his odes to Brescia. We are in 1825 and the ode is “Roman Brescia”. It mentions the Forum, Vespasian, the theater, the Curia, but not the Winged Victory which will be brought to light a year later.
Arici’s patriotism emphasizes a desire for redemption of an Italy subjected to foreigners and this redemption had to pass through the recovery of the glorious Roman past.
Gabriele D’Annunzio and Giosuè Carducci in their compositions blend Greek and Roman memories: the Winged Victory is considered a synthesis of the same.
Carducci, present in the city twice, in 1871 and 1876) dedicates to the city “To Victory”, an ode written in 1877 and inserted in the Odi Barbare.
Delighted with fate, Brescia gathers me,
Brescia the strong, Brescia the iron,
Brescia the lioness of Italy
Drunk in enemy blood
This is how the poet wanted to celebrate the courage of the Brescians during the TEN DAYS historical episode linked to our Risorgimento.
The Vate, Gabriele D’Annunzio, dedicated a sonnet to Brescia where he celebrates the Winged Victory.
Even our National Anthem recalls the Victory with the helmet of Scipio and the cohort to cling to.
In 1913 Pietro Antonio Beretta, asked the Prefecture of Brescia for the transcription of the trademark “Winged Victory” depicting the very bronze of the first century A.D. He would have the right to use it exclusively to distinguish hunting rifles.
The Winged Victory of Brescia, was made with the technique called “lost wax” and could be linked to a military success: the hypothesis is that of a gift to Brescia by the emperor Vespasian supported by the city during the clashes of 69 AD. It writes on the shield today missing. She must have held it between her arm and her bent leg while with her right hand she engraved a name: the name of a winner of a war clash?
Here the “winged woman” is the symbol that legitimizes the power of those who glorify her and she gives honor in a military victory.
Even Theodoric recovered her in his gold coins….!
The Winged Victory can be admired today in the cell of the Capitolium: BRESCIA MUSEI has called Juan Navarro Baldeweg to design the cell that will contain the Winged Victory.
All that remains is to wish you a…..good vision!