Download model files here: thingiverse.com/thing:196038
“No classical education is needed to appreciate the personification, nor is it hard to grasp the drama of the figure’s action given its superb position–and this is so despite the absence of arms and head; indeed perhaps its maimed condition has helped make the life it retains seem more miraculous.” — Francis Haskell, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500-1900
An iconic beacon of martial glamour, Winged Victory, the Nike of Samothrace is widely considered Hellenistic sculpture’s greatest masterpiece. It was made between 200 and 190 BC, and more than a century ago important works of sculptural art like it were reproduced in plaster to be bought, sold, and traded by museums, universities, art schools, and private collectors around the world. In 1891, high-fidelity, full-scale, nine-foot-tall plaster casts of Winged Victory could be purchased from the Louvre’s own atelier for 300 francs.
The customs and commerce driving the plaster cast tradition largely died out in the early 1900s. Many significant cast collections were broken up, with some pieces lost or even deliberately destroyed.
In 1892, a plaster of Winged Victory was carefully cast by the Louvre’s atelier under the direction of its master mold maker Eugene Arrondel and was purchased by the University of Basel. The Basel cast of Victory survives today at the Skulpturhalle Basel museum.
In September 2013, with the museum’s permission and the financial support of Autodesk’s Reality Capture division, I spent a week working in the Skulpturhalle, taking 3D surveys of my choice of casts. I took hundreds of carefully staged photos of Victory and used Autodesk’s ReCap Photo photogrammetry software to process them into a high-quality 3D model, which I have published here: http://thingiverse.com/thing:196038
Winged Victory is one of the world’s most celebrated sculptures. It usually stands atop a stone warship’s prow at the top of the Louvre’s Daru staircase, where it oversees millions of visitors, but in September 2013 the Louvre removed Victory from public view while it undergoes an extensive, year-long restoration.
That restoration effort will include a 3D survey, though the Louvre has not indicated whether they will freely publish the 3D data for which they are soliciting funds. While the original Victory is conspicuously missing, and as the Louvre contemplates what to do with their data, I am happy to provide my own. This capture is to my knowledge the first high-quality 3D survey of Winged Victory to be freely published, and I hope you enjoy direct access to this ancient, dramatic work’s mystique.
Francis Haskell, quoted above, continues, writing in Taste and the Antique that the Winged Victory of Samothrace “was singled out by Marinetti in his Futurist manifesto of 20 February 1909 as the symbol of the classical culture which the heroic new age of the machine gun and racing car would supercede.” I hope this new, 3D captured, digitally published Winged Victory and all its 3D printed iterations might someday be seen as symbols of a new new age, and a different kind of futurism.
You can read more about my project, Through A Scanner, Skulpturhalle, at http://ThroughAScanner.com. I will be publishing more results, including Venus de Milo and the Medusa Rondanini, among others, and cataloging them here: http://thingiverse.com/thing:83781 I post occasional updates on Twitter as well: http://twitter.com/CosmoWenman
If you know anyone who would be interested in sponsoring more of this kind of work by me, please send them my way.
— Cosmo Wenman
The blue 3D print shown in the photo was made with white PLA and finished in patinated copper. It’s the very first 3D print made with this survey data, and it was shown at the London and Paris 3D Printshows in November 2013. It’s been sold, but I can make another, and another, and another, in unlimited editions. I’m also offering 3D prints of Winged Victory through my Shapeways shop, and I can cast Victory for you in bronze or stainless steel in any size.
Scan Information, Tools, and Specifications
Nike, The Winged Victory of Samothrace
Skulpturhalle Basel accession number 248
1892 plaster molded and cast from the original by the Louvre atelier under the direction of Eugene Arrondel, with only very slight evidence of parting lines, and a false patina likely added in the 1950s or 1960s.
250 JPEGs processed with Autodesk’s ReCap Photo cloud-based photogrammetry application: http://recap.autodesk.com, using every other third photo from 752 sequential positions, plus a selection of detail shots.
Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Lens: Sigma EX 50mm
Using a wireless remote shutter release and a loose tripod for shots at eye level and below, and a tripod on extended legs with wheels for shots from above.
5616 x 3744 pixels per shot
Lighting: Normal museum lights plus three additional fixed spotlights, with diffuse light from skylight on a cloudy day.
Scaling, cropping, sectioning, and print preparation of the model was done with Blender on a Windows 7 PC with an overheating NVIDIA GeForce GTX 550 Ti graphics card.
Scale references in the raw unedited .obj:
The grey plinth Victory stands on is 800mm x 1010mm by 348.5mm tall, measured from the floor.
The white balance reference card is 254mm x 216mm.
The “Frauen und Sport” poster is 2000mm wide.
The “Weitere Sportarten” poster is 1700mm wide.
The “Wagenrennen und Reiten” poster is 2188mm wide and 915mm from the floor.
The model has been only very lightly re-sculpted with Meshmixer to fix the very top edges of the forward third of the wings where the photos did not get sufficient coverage. A few small areas in some of the valleys in the drapery are inverted, convex where they should be concave, but these were left as-is.
This project was made possible by the financial support of Autodesk’s Reality Capture division. My thanks to Tatjana Dzambazova and Brian Mathews there for making it happen, and to the people in Autodesk’s Reality Capture and 123D teams, who make incredible products. http://recap.autodesk.com + http://123dapp.com
Thanks to Dr. Tomas Lochman, director of the Skulpturhalle Basel museum, for giving me access to the museum and allowing me to conduct this experiment in extending the reach of its incredible collection and the spirit that informed its creation. http://www.skulpturhalle.ch
I’d also like to thank the following:
Bernard Frischer, Professor of Informatics and Director of the Virtual World Heritage Laboratory, Indiana University, for his advice on where to try this experiment (e dove non), and for introducing me to Dr. Lochman. http://frischerconsulting.com/frischer/projects.html
FARO, for making a FARO Scanarm Edge laser scanner available to me, and to FARO’s Florian Fuenfschilling and Chris Bartschat for their expertise operating it and grabbing some laser scans of additional pieces for me. http://faro.com
Ralph Wiedemeier, who made and lent me a custom, 10′ tall tripod on wheels that was absolutely critical. He even delivered it to me from Zurich. http://framefactory.ch
MakerBot for featuring my Kickstarter on Thingiverse.
Kerry Hogarth of the 3D Printshow, for giving me tickets to the London, Paris, and New York shows to use as Kickstarter rewards, and for exhibition space there to show off the project’s results. http://3dprintshow.com
Susan Self for her help promoting the Kickstarter to the media. firstname.lastname@example.org
Virginia Postrel for her advice and help telling the story of the bigger picture as it’s been coming into focus. http://vpostrel.com/power-of-glamour
Thank you to all my Kickstarter’s backers. Even though it wasn’t the viral hit we’d hoped for and the campaign fell through, without their support and help promoting it, the project would have remained dead in the water.