The painting above by Jean-Léon Gérôme is one of my favourites, I was wandering around The Met in NYC (as one does) and came across this hanging unloved and un-admired in a dark corner. I guess some of you will be familiar with the story of how the sculptor Pygmalion fell in love with one of his statues, and how Aphrodite took pity on him and allowed the statue to come to life. There are many versions of this painting and you’d be amazed just how many storylines in plays and movies have been inspired by this theme.
I like this painting a lot because it chimes with feelings, emotions, yearnings, deep inside me and I suspect a lot of others. At times a part of me knows how Pygmalion felt, the search for someone special, someone to love seems endless and if I could then I would carve my own perfect match out of stone and pray to the gods to bring her to life. Mind you, knowing my artistic skills – or obvious lack of – I suspect I’d create Frankenstein’s monster and have to learn to love him ummmm.. her!.
The ancient Greeks have a myth that we were once literally bonded together with our perfect match. We were so happy the gods became jealous and cut us apart; and ever since, we each go in search of that perfect mate from whom we’ve been separated. The older I get the more credence I give to that myth, my mother Doris thinks the same and had to wait until she was 81 before she found the right soul for her and I’m beginning to suspect I’m going to follow in her footsteps. I know I’m going to miss out on lots of rumpy-pumpy but what choice does any one of us have, do we cut our losses and settle for someone just OK and hope we will fall in love with them eventually, is it better to have at least companionship than wander these shores alone for the rest of your life?. This was the biggest problem with my marriage and I am aware that those who don’t learn the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them. I have friends whom met someone reasonably suitable and got married and I look at them and wonder are they really happy, is it a deep deep love or just ok, convenient, easy..
Jackie Kennedy famously said the first time you marry for love, the second for money, and the third for companionship but I strongly disagree, she lived in a world very different from us mere muggles, (plus I wonder what Liz Taylor has to say on the subject), I think those are the three factors but she’s got them mixed up, I know money was not a factor for Doris and Bob and that companionship was a factor but I’m pretty sure in the end the only reason they married was for love. I’m wondering just how long I have to wait before Aphrodite takes pity on me.