Jean-Léon Gérôme - Pygmalion and GalateaOil on canvas, 1890, 88,9 × 68,6 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York

Kiss me...


Description and interpretation of the famous painting'Pygmalion and Galatea' by Jean-Léon Gérôme!

Jean-Léon Gérôme - Pygmalion and Galatea

King Pygmalion created an ivory statue so beautifully that he fell in love with it himself. He gave her presents and even took her to bed with him. A prayer to Venus was answered and the statue was brought to life with a kiss. 

Although a king, Pygmalion was regarded by the artists as a figure of identification and was usually depicted in a studio in a less befitting manner. Gérôme became so concrete that he placed the mythological scene in his own studio. The boundaries between him and the mytholigic figure become fluid. Instead of Venus, her deputy and son Amor comes into the picture here. This floats a little more transparently than the rest of the ground from the right into the picture. He's got a gun on them. Is that still necessary, as intimately as they already kiss? It doesn't bother them that only half of the female body is already enlivened. The back view also stimulates the viewer's imagination. The fact that Pygmalion is held in a stepping position for the kiss conveys something spontaneous, immediate. 

Gérôme did not devote himself to the subject just once. Before this canvas version he already created a marble group, which served as a model for further paintings and allowed him different views of the same. The details in the backround cannot be uniquely assigned. From left to right you can see a statue of the hunting goddess Diana, next to her a mother with child, finally a sitting woman with a mirror. On the right there are two distorted masks and at the bottom right the head of the Medusa on a sign. Compositionally, the movement is almost centrally divided into two halves by a straight line. Below shades of brown and the legs of the statue still in ivory, above brought to life love and numerous works of art in the studio.

© the artinspector / alexandra tuschka