Olivier Voutier (1796-1877)

Colonel Olivier Voutier, of the French Navy; Discoverer of "Venus de Milo"

Associated Houses

Castel Sainte-Claire


He was born at Thouars in Nouvelle-Aquitaine. He entered Naval College in 1811 where he also became interested in classical history. He discovered the Venus de Milo in 1820 when the king's barge "La Chevrette" captained by Pierre-Henry Gauttier du Parc made a stopover in Milo (Milos in modern Greek). His testimony resulted in the French Ambassador at Istanbul, the Marquis de Rivière, acquiring the statue as a gift to King Louis XVIII who donated it to the Louvre. In 1821, he resigned from the Navy and joined the Greek War of Independence. Back in France in 1823, he published an account of his adventures that were met with great success. He was a regular guest at the literary salon of Madame Récamier and a political ally of Napoleon III, developing a close relationship with his mother, Hortense. His close friend, the famous French painter Horace Vernet, introduced him to Hyères where he would build the Castel Sainte-Claire and where he is buried. He married Palmire d'Alpuget and had one daughter, Delphine.
Contributed by Mark Meredith on 22/09/2022 and last updated on 22/09/2022.