Monuments reveal

Story behind monument

Famous sculptures starring in the movies

Famous sculptures starring in the movies

One Touch of Venus. 1948 film. Famous sculptures starring in the movies

Famous sculptures starring in the movies

There was a Spanish Bonifacius
Who wrote of mortals loving statues;
But an Italian changed the plan,
And made a statue love a man.

Charles Godfrey Leland
The story of beautiful woman captured in stone has been observed in many cultures, as myth, legend, or folklore. In some creation myths, the first people were images of clay, brought to life by the gods. The theme of the animation of a female statue haunts Western culture, in particular, Pygmalion and Galatea.
Once Pygmalion managed to cut out of precious ivory a statue of a young woman of amazing beauty. The more Pygmalion admired his creation, the more he found beauty in it. It began to seem to him that none of the mortal women exceeds his statue with beauty and nobility. Being jealous of everyone who could see her, Pygmalion did not let anyone into the workshop. In solitude – in the daytime in the rays of Helios, at night by the light of a lamp – the young king admired the statue, whispered tender words to her, bestowed on flowers and jewels, as lovers do. He called her Galatea, dressed her in purple, and put her on the throne next to him.

Robert Walker, Joseph Nicolosi’s statue of Venus, and Ava Gardner in a publicity photo for 'One Touch of Venus' (William Seiter, 1948)

Robert Walker, Joseph Nicolosi’s statue of Venus, and Ava Gardner in a publicity photo for ‘One Touch of Venus’ (William Seiter, 1948). Famous sculptures starring in the movies

During the feast of Aphrodite, celebrated by all the islanders, Pygmalion in the country sanctuary of the goddess brought her sacrifice with a prayer:
“Oh, if I had a wife that looked like my creation.”
A lot of hot prayers were heard by the goddess in her day, but she condescended to one Pygmalion, for she knew that there was not a person in Cyprus who loved so sincerely as Pygmalion. And three times a sacrificial fire flashed in the altar as a sign that Aphrodite heard Pygmalion.
The excited king rushed to the palace. And here he is in the workshop, next to his man-made lover.
– Well, what are you still sleeping? Open your eyes, and you will see that the solar chariot of Helios has already risen, and he will give you good news.”

Rays lay on her ivory face, and it seemed to Pygmalion that it was a little pink. Grabbing his girlfriend for a hand, he felt that the bone was inferior to the pressure of his fingers, he saw that the skin on her face was whiter and the cheeks glowed. The chest widened, filled with air. And Pygmalion heard the calm and even breathing of the sleeper. Her eyelids lifted and her eyes glittered with that dazzling blue of the sea that washed the island of Aphrodite.

The news that the beautiful maiden came to life, flew all over the island in a short time. Huge crowds flocked to the square in front of the palace. The happy Pygmalion was no longer afraid of envious glances and gossip. He brought out the newborn, and, seeing her beauty, people fell to their knees and loudly praised the Lady Aphrodite, who gives love to all that lives, and can revive stone and bone in the name of love and for love.
Immediately in front of all Pygmalion proclaimed the girl queen of Cyprus and covered her fragrant hair with the royal crown. In a purple robe with a radiant face, she was beautiful, like Aphrodite herself.

Portrayed in several films, aestheticized images of ideal femininity appeared in “One Touch of Venus”, “Flying Dutchman”, and “The Barefoot Contessa” (Joseph Mankiewicz, 1954).

Famous sculptures starring in the movies

Art in the cinematic imagination by Susan Felleman. The University of Texas Press. First edition, 2006