PUGET, Pierre
(b. 1620, Marseille, d. 1694, Marseille)

Milo of Croton

Marble, height 269 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris

Milo (or Milon) of Croton was a legendary Greek wrestler from the Greek settlement of Croton in southern Italy. He won the wrestling contest at five successive Olympic Games, and swept the board at all other festivals. A man of huge stature, he boasted that no one had ever brought him to his knees. It is said that he carried a live ox upon his shoulders through the stadium at Olympia, then ate it all in a single day. Tradition has it that in his old age, on seeing an oak tree partly split open with a wedge he tried to wrench it apart, but only succeeded in causing the wedge to fall out, thereby trapping his hands. He was left a helpless prey to the wild beast who soon finished him off. He is usually depicted in Baroque art as a partly naked muscular figure, his hands imprisoned by a tree trunk, and attacked by a lion.

Having suggested to Colbert the idea of a statue of Milo for Versailles, Puget took an exceptionally large block of marble and carved out of it the hero, his hand caught in a split tree-trunk, about to be devoured by a lion. Completed at Marseille after ten years' work, the sculpture, signed and dated 1682, was sent of to Versailles in 1683 and placed at the entrance of the Tapis Vert. It has been in the Louvre since 1820. Among the sculptures made for Versailles, Puget's Milo represents the irruption of the Baroque. But though it is animated by violent, twisting movements, and strong diagonals, it is nevertheless inscribed in a geometric, almost classical framework.

You can view other depictions of Milo of Croton in the Web Gallery of Art.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.