“Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon Gérôme
“Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon Gérôme depicts the story from Ovid’s Metamorphoses, where the sculptor Pygmalion kisses his ivory statue Galatea, after the goddess, Aphrodite has brought her to life.
In Ovid’s narrative, Pygmalion was a Cypriot sculptor who carved a woman out of ivory. Galatea “she who is milk-white” is the name of the statue carved by Pygmalion. His figure was so beautiful and realistic that he fell in love with it.
On Aphrodite’s festival day, Pygmalion made offerings at the altar of Aphrodite, and he made a wish. When he returned home, he kissed his ivory statue and found that its lips felt warm.
Aphrodite had granted Pygmalion’s request; the ivory sculpture changed to a woman with Aphrodite’s (or Venus’ the Roman equivalent) blessing.
Jean-Léon Gérôme was a French painter and sculptor, and his oeuvre included historical paintings, Greek mythology, Orientalism, and portraits in the academic painting tradition.
In 1891 Gérôme made a marble sculpture of Pygmalion and Galatea, based on a plaster version he used as a model for the painting. He made several alternative versions of this painting, each presenting the subject from a different angle.
Greek Mythology Paintings
Greek mythology is the vast body of stories about the origin and the nature of the world, the lives and activities of deities, heroes, and mythological creatures, and the origins and significance of the ancient Greeks’ own culture and rituals.
Greek mythology has had an extensive influence on the culture, arts, and literature of Western civilization and is a fundamental part of Western heritage and language.
Poets and artists from ancient times to the present have derived inspiration from Greek mythology and have discovered contemporary significance and relevance in the themes.
Pygmalion and Galatea
- Title: Pygmalion and Galatea
- Artist: Jean-Léon Gérôme
- Year: 1890
- Type: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: 35 x 27 in. (88.9 x 68.6 cm)
- Museum: Metropolitan Museum of Art – MET
- Artist: Jean-Léon Gérôme
- Born: 1824 – Vesoul, Haute-Saône, France
- Died: 1904 (aged 79) – Paris, France
- Nationality: French
- Movement: Academicism, Orientalism
- Notable works:
Jean-Léon Gérôme, “Pygmalion and Galatea”, ca. 1890
A Tour of MET European Paintings Collection
- “Pygmalion and Galatea” by Jean-Léon
- “Saint Jerome as Scholar” by El Greco
- “Portrait of Juan de Pareja” by Diego Velázquez
- “Camille Monet on a Garden Bench” by Claude Monet
- “View of Toledo” by El Greco
- “The Musicians” by Caravaggio
- “The Death of Socrates” by Jacques-Louis David
- “The Harvesters” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder
- “Young Woman Drawing” by Marie-Denise Villers
- “The Grand Canal, Venice” by J. M. W. Turner
- “The Houses of Parliament (Effect of Fog)” by Claude Monet
- “Madame Cézanne in a Red Dress” by Paul Cézanne
- “The Fortune Teller” by Georges de La Tour
- “The Allegory of Faith” by Johannes Vermeer
- “Garden at Sainte-Adresse” by Claude Monet
- “Wheat Field with Cypresses” by Vincent van Gogh
- “The Repast of the Lion” by Henri Rousseau
- “The Horse Fair” by Rosa Bonheur
- “Two Men Contemplating the Moon” by Caspar David Friedrich
- “Boy with a Greyhound” by Paolo Veronese
- “A Windy Day on the Pont des Arts” by Jean Béraud
- “Sunday at the Church of Saint-Philippe-du-Roule, Paris” by Jean Béraud
- “The Boulevard Montmartre on a Winter Morning” by Camille Pissarro
- “The Sorrow of Telemachus” by Angelica Kauffman
Pygmalion and Galatea: Greek Mythology Stories
MET Modern and Contemporary Art Collection
- “Reclining Nude” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “Improvisation 27 (Garden of Love II)” by Wassily Kandinsky
- “Jeanne Hébuterne” by Amedeo Modigliani
- “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne
- “Bathers” by Paul Cézanne
Pygmalion and Galatea || Mythology
MET American Wing Collection
- “Washington Crossing the Delaware” by Emanuel Leutze
- “Portrait of Madame X” by John Singer Sargent
- “Mother and Child” by Mary Cassatt
- “Fur Traders Descending the Missouri” by George Caleb Bingham
- “The Gulf Stream” by Winslow Homer
- “The Parthenon” by Frederic Edwin Church
- “The Aegean Sea” by Frederic Edwin Church
- “Alexander Hamilton” by John Trumbull
- “Lady at the Tea Table” by Mary Cassatt
The Pygmalion Effect
Jean Léon Gérôme, Pigmalione e Galatea
Pygmalion et Galatée
“I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”
Photo Credit: 1) Jean-Léon Gérôme [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons